Six months ago I graduated from college and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. If I am being completely and utterly honest, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. There is so much pressure to have it all figured out by the time you walk across the stage and they hand you a fancy diploma holder that will sit empty until they mail you your actual diploma two months later. The last day I was on campus I sent my resume to an organization that I am passionate about practically begging for an internship. What had started out as an “I would love to go to Washington, D.C. with you, but I don’t know how I would.” when my friend asked me if I would go with her, turned into a big “YES” when I got the call that the organization I had sent my resume to and interviewed with wanted me to come work with them as an intern for a semester. That was the day my life changed.
I had always dreamed of leaving the state I grew up in, went to school in, and graduated college from, the state my mother moved to when she was my age and never looked back until recently when she finally retired after about 50+ years of building a successful career. I created a travel bucket list with my best friends and little sister – places we had heard of but never been. I perused travel boards on Pinterest, my soul longing to be set free. Never did I think I would pick up my life and relocate half way across the country, away from my family and all that I have ever known, even for as short amount of a time as four months. I didn’t think I could or would until I heard “Yes” come out of my mouth. For a second I wasn’t even sure it was me that had said it, but it was me and now I had to go. More than that, I wanted to go. Washington, D.C. changed me. I’m not the same person I was four months ago.
My friend and I had found a one-bedroom apartment about a block outside of Washington, D.C for $1800 a month. (Yep, you read that right!) On the plus side it was furnished and it was less than a mile from the metro. There were two full beds – one in the bedroom and one in the main living area. It was small, it was weird, but it proved to be a good home for the time we were there. When we first pulled up, we quickly realized we were the minority – white and female. Before I go any further, know that I understand people of other races, cultures, religions, genders, or sexuality are all human beings too. It is also important to understand that before coming to Washington, D.C. I had lived in a predominantly white neighborhood and attended predominantly white schools. I had never truly been exposed to other cultures, races, and religions on such a large-scale. Driving into the neighborhood we would be living in for the next four months, the first question out of my mouth was “What the hell am I getting myself into?” I quickly learned that the stereotypes I had grown up hearing and learning were for the most part false. We are all human beings going about our lives. We all come into this life the same way. The color of our skin, our religion or lack thereof, our gender, and our sexualities do not define us. They help makes us who we are as individuals, but they certainly do not define us. The mixture of cultures and people from all walks of life in Washington, D.C. is truly a beautiful thing. It’s what makes Washington, D.C. the place it is.
Living and working in Washington, D.C. has proved to me that the United States – and probably the entire world – is very much a patriarchy. Something else that living in working in Washington, D.C. has shown me is that girls and women of all ages aren’t going to stand for that anymore. The first time I saw this was when I walked into the office I would be interning in and it was predominantly women. It became obvious again when I learned that the office manager and office coordinators are both women and when I learned that 3 of the 4 team leaders in the same office were women. The next time I saw that women weren’t going to sit down and be quiet anymore was during the multitude of congressional hearings I attended or watched via live stream in the office. For example, it was Senator Susan Collins’ vote “No” that prevented the Graham-Cassidy bill that would have been harmful for millions of Americans. I personally loved watching and listening to Senator Elizabeth Warren – she doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit, she doesn’t let the men interrupt her or shut her down, though they do try, and she fights for what she believes in with a passion. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Washington, D.C. could not run without women. Neither could the world for that matter. It is especially clear that women in Washington, D.C. aren’t going to take shit from anyone. They wear their power suits with no shame, hold their heads high, break glass ceilings, and you know that the words that she speaks next are going to be strong, powerful, and meaningful. It is beautiful, inspiring, and intimidating all at once. WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS.
While in Washington, D.C., I said yes more. I took more chances. I went out and explored more. “Do you want to go to this museum?” Yes. “Do you want to try this new place to eat?” Yes. “Do you want to go out to this club?” Yes. “Do you want to go see this band?” Yes. “Will you go with me to meet this person?” Yes. “Do you want to go to this congressional hearing?” Yes. “Do you want to go try to find this event?” Yes. YES! YES! YES! I can’t tell you how many museums, art galleries, restaurants, clubs, and events I went too. I can’t tell you how many beautiful, inspiring, interesting, amazing people I have met with, conversed with, and laughed with. I can’t tell you how many metro stops I’ve gotten on and off at. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten lost and each and every time has turned into an adventure. Each and every place, person, and adventure has brought me out of my shell, has taught me a valuable lesson about what it means to truly live, experience, and enjoy life, and has changed me for the better.