OutPower

Finding Inspiration Within – Julianna Rittenberg

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

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All my life, I have looked for motivation and inspiration to keep me going. In the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I stuck endless Post-it notes of quotes on the wall surrounding my mirror in my bedroom. By the end of high school, half the wall was covered from floor to ceiling. Every morning before school, I looked in the mirror and saw the quotes surrounding it and went on my way. My inspiration came from Pinterest quotes, celebrities and politicians, books, and television characters. They kept me going through sleepless nights of homework. 

Since I was sixteen, my favorite quote has been, “decisions are made by those who show up.” It encapsulates what I want from my life. I want – need- to be in the rooms where decisions are happening so that I can be impacting positive change. It does not do any good to complain on Twitter if actions are not behind it. 

At the top of my quote wall was a row of pictures of Washington, D.C. The end goal was to get here. So now that I am here, what happens next?

Since getting to Washington, D.C., I have been working to find my new inspiration and motivation once I get back to school. Every day when I walk home from work, I pass the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. It is impossible to not feel incredibly lucky that I am here when I take that walk. It is impossible to not feel like I need to do whatever I can to make sure I am back after graduation. 

I find inspiration all around me here. I find it in my housemates, who have quickly become great friends. I found it in the other Victory Congressional interns as we sat around on National Coming Out Day telling our stories. I find it in all the queer people I work with and meet every day, who are living as themselves, unapologetically. I find it in the space I am working in as I consider the weight of the many decisions made in the halls I walk through every single day. I find it in myself as I consider what I have accomplished to get here and what I will accomplish next. 

Perhaps the coolest thing to happen to me so far in this internship has been going to a book signing at Politics and Prose. Jen Psaki was the moderator, Cody Keenan the author. Both worked in the Obama administration, and there were several other previous and current White House staff present. I have been reading books by these individuals all through high school and college, looking to them for an idea of what my career path could look like. Suddenly, I was in the same room as them and talking to them. Getting advice from them. This was a moment of major inspiration and motivation. I will work as hard as I can to be in the same room as people I have read about. 

That same day, at the LGBTQ Victory Institute, we discussed political and campaign jobs and the different ways we can engage in campaign work. I have known for a few months now that campaign work is my first post-graduation goal. The Victory Congressional Internship programming has shown me the different ways that I can make that goal happen. Sitting in the office on Friday, something inside me clicked. This is a thing I can do. A thing that makes me happy. A thing that makes me feel like I am making positive change in this country. It makes my hard work worth it.