From Idaho to Capitol Hill: Embracing the Beauty of Uncertainty
OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ+ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci.
It wasn’t until my plane had made its very rough landing in D.C. that I realized this was not just some short trip where I would be returning home within a matter of days. Every trip I have made to the East has only lasted about a week, resulting in this summer being the first time I have been away from home for this amount of time. This realization left me with a pit in my stomach as I stepped off the plane and was hit with the humidity I would become painfully accustomed to in these eight weeks. I had anxiety over all of the uncertainties of this summer, the worries of entering an entirely different type of work environment and being put in community with strangers I had only ever seen on a Zoom call. If I have learned anything from my time here in D.C. and working on The Hill, it’s that there is beauty in unfamiliarity and uncertainty.
I am finding it very difficult to put this experience into words because there is simply too much I could write about, I feel almost as if I have lived several different lives in the span of seven weeks. This experience has been transformative in so many ways, and I think it is because I was launched into such an unfamiliar atmosphere and forced to find my way through. There were so many things that I was unsure of, the stress of it all almost deterred me from following through with it. In the days leading up to the fateful flight to D.C. all I could think about was everything that could possibly go wrong and how I’d somehow have to pack a bed comforter and towels with all my clothes. The stress from the uncertainty almost made me not want to go, but I am so glad I did.
That first night I knew I would find a community here. From forcing myself down one of the longest metro escalators in the DMV with Zach, to sharing Spotify playlists, and expressing our excitement for the program and our goals for the Summer, I knew I would be walking way from this experience with new friends from all over. One of my fondest memories is laying out on a blanket at the Lincoln Memorial with a group; in these moments, we really got to know each other. As a first generation college student from a rural state with little experience in D.C., I was nervous I would not connect with the other individuals in my cohort. Nonetheless, it has been the complete opposite – we have each found so many things in common and shared feelings. I was very grateful that there were several other people here from similar backgrounds as me.
These individuals have helped me become proud of where I come from. At the beginning of Summer, I felt ashamed about my home state of Idaho, dreading the moments when I had to reveal my hometown to others. It made me believe I was somehow inferior and easily overlooked. But my friends here have helped me find the confidence to hold my head high and speak my truth, and I now have put Boise on a map for so many people. I’m not just some potato farmer from the Napoleon Dynamite state – instead, I stand as living proof that one can achieve success despite challenging circumstances and without an ivy league background.
Working on Capitol Hill has been an eye-opening experience. Althoughit is one that I can explain, the intricacies can’t be understood unless you yourself set foot in these hallways. I’ve practically had to learn a new language with all of the Hill terminology, and I casually walk by the people who have the power to make such large impacts on people. It truly is quite an intriguing experience, especially working for the Democratic Caucus.
In this office, I would be the person holding the door open for our lawmakers and ensuring they have a sacred space to hold conversations and plan their agenda to be presented to the country on the House floor. Our office is the support system for the entire party, and it was amazing to take part in this, especially given how tumultuous this summer has been between the debt ceiling deal and the Supreme Court decisions. Whatever a member office needs, from folding 75,000 letters to just loaning out a toolkit, the Caucus is there.
As my time is coming to a close as a Victory Intern, I am finding it easier to reflect on everything I have learned; yet,I am still struggling to find the words to describe this entire experience. How can I possibly detail what it is like to walk down the same hallways as some of the most influential people in history while spending the summer with sixteen strangers from all over? I’m uncertain how to do so but that’s the beauty of it. And this blog post is a start.OUT ON THE HILL