Living in Washington, DC, has taught me a lot about myself. The struggles of day to day life are much different than what I experienced while living in New York City, though some of the same problems do persist. The NYU building here creates an interesting environment that I will probably never experience again. With classrooms and dorms located within the same structure, there is a constant battle between relaxation and academics. Balancing an internship along with 18 credits worth of classes has taught me more about what does not work than what does. My actual internship has matured me and informed me more than I would have ever been able to do on my own. I initially did not think that moving from New York to DC would be a big change, but spending a semester here has shown me how different two major American cities can be. Comparing it to my home city of Dallas, the differences between all three are even more prominent. My ability to adapt and thrive in different environments will help me for the rest of my life, teaching me the importance of recognizing and accepting differences within a whole body.
I do not think I would have had nearly the same experience here if it had not been because of my internship. As an intern for Senator Harry Reid, I got an inside look on how our Congress functions. Near the end of my internship, I would always find myself having these mini self-realizations as I was leaving work. The low murmur of voices, the brisk air on my face, and the night sky lit up by the capitol building—the setting alone was practically begging me to have an “Aha!” moment as I walked down the steps of the capitol.
These moments that I experienced were less about me realizing my grand purpose in life or anything like that, and were more about me realizing what I was accomplishing and what I had learned. If someone had told me 5 years ago that this would be my life in 2015, I would have had some serious doubts. I did not show any real political interest up until recently, which even has surprised myself. It is interesting to reflect upon my own mind’s response not to being introduced to a new topic, but to being submersed into it. The political world, although functioning for the general public, has a set of goals different from what you will find from those outside of it. Every policy can carry vast consequences, which creates an air of intensity around every vote. This semester has shown me that I do not have the same goals of those working there to enable me to devote all my time to the life of someone else. Seeing the devotion that employees have within the office, some working the same place for over 20 years, made me really consider whether or not I would be willing to do that for someone. The struggles that come with serving in the public sector had to be considered as well.
Throughout life, learning what you don’t enjoy doing is just as valuable as learning what you do enjoy. For me, my internship experience helped me understand the type of workplace that I best thrive in and the type of work that I feel most fulfilled doing. Even though it did not necessarily narrow down my interests, it did help me understand how I think and approach assignments compared to others. Knowing myself better helps me better understand others, enabling me to work better with the world around me.