I remember when I enrolled at my college and was amazed at how many intelligent people were there. For a bit, I lost myself and felt like I could not understand who I was outside of smart. If everyone around me had as much or greater intelligence, who was l?
Being in DC is a similar sensation to my freshman year. Many of the qualities that I thought were unique or special when I was back home are common-place here. My involvement with local politics and volunteer work – pshaw. Feminist? Welcome to our listservs, networking events, and happy hours. While it is absolutely wonderful to have a life filled with interesting and smart people, I admit that I’ve been challenged everyday to really learn who I am ideologically, politically, and who I am as a person. My housemates of varying political beliefs continue to challenge and often change my more-partisan beliefs. Co-workers and people I meet in DC have no qualms with asking you how you feel about a specific policy matter.
Also, I’ve fallen in love with the Hill and the City. Until I moved here, I did not know that DC was called “Hollywood for Dorks;” and thank goodness, it certainly feels like it to me. There’s such a rush of excitement when I recognize a Senator or Representative waiting for an elevator or subway. Being on the Hill, I feel like I am a part of the action, especially when I get to watch my boss meeting with constituents and asking pointed questions in committee hearings. She’s confident, well-spoken, and talks in such a matter-of-fact and kind way about volatile issues that you just can’t help but agree with her! I really look up to her as the kind of elected official that I’d like to be someday.
I am certainly not the same young women who moved here in January. Personally, as a recent graduate, I also see myself transitioning into adulthood. I admit that leaving the insular world of a small university and into a 9-6 job has its challenges. Just in my normal routine, I am finally getting used to wearing a suit nearly everyday, packing my lunch, and feeling confident in my abilities to get my tasks done well. Two months ago, I was a slightly scruffy college student, scurrying between the library and the women’s center. Now, when I am leading a tour, talking to a constituent, or hunting down information for a staffer, I think — wow! I can’t believe I am here on the Hill.
– Anna R., Star Fellow Spring 2010