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.
Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, I am used to the early morning hustle and bustle of big cities. I am used to the hordes of people dressed in business professional attire, heads eternally tilted down at their phones to send an important email or read the daily news. I am used to the feeling of a collective, longing desire to be back in bed.
I am, however, only used to experiencing this early morning commotion as a mere observer. I used to begin my morning commute to high school every morning at 5:30am. Right in the middle of the early-riser rush hour crowd, I would dawn my backpack and school uniform and weave my way through the crowds of adults. While the fast-paced professional world was certainly part of my life, I did not feel like a part of that world.
This was one of my main concerns when starting the Victory Congressional Internship (VCI). I was worried that my role as an intern would lead me to feel the same way – that even though I was in the fullest sense immersed in the professional world of Washington, D.C., I was not truly a part of that world. Admittedly, without the additional support that the LGBTQ Victory Institute provides me, this worry may have been sustained.
We began our internship with a series of orientation sessions: the first of which was an anticipatory imposter syndrome workshop. During this session, we first recognized the reality and existence of imposter syndrome. Through open and honest dialogues, we were able to reinforce to each other that we are here for a reason: that we are accomplished, strong, and powerful young queer working professionals who did not get these internships by chance but rather by our own merits.
This set the tone perfectly for the days to come in the office. Congressional offices can be quite overwhelming with so many things going on at once: one person on the phones with constituents, another meeting with constituents, and one more person working on a very impactful bill. As a Congressional intern, you can feel out of place. You can feel as though you are a nuisance, you are not meant to be there, or you are unimportant. No less, as interns who all identify as LGBTQ+, imposter syndrome can be significantly exacerbated. Congress was not intended to be a place that serves people like me or was served by people like me, but I am constantly reminded that now, Congress is a place that can serve people like me and, thanks to the LGBTQ Victory Institute, is served by people like me. No less, the intentional placement of all the Victory Congressional Interns with offices that are known to be LGBTQ+-friendly helps mitigate the effects of the imposter syndrome that affects us all. This constant reinforcement that I am here for a reason allows me to fully engage in the internship experience and realize the importance of the work that I am doing.
That is not to say that I have not at any point experienced imposter syndrome during these past two weeks. There were times where I felt that the daily hustle and bustle in the workplace did not include me and that I was actually a nuisance. I felt that I was less experienced than the other interns and unworthy of the role that I am playing. But having a group of 15 other strong, compassionate, and considerate peers to come home to and share what my day was like and how I was feeling builds in a natural support system that is unparalleled for a stressful Congressional internship.
Admittedly, I did not discuss the ins and outs about what my Congressional internship has been like. That is because I firmly believe that, while my Congressional internship so far has been the most amazing professional experience of my lifetime and I am so appreciative of the welcoming office I am working in, what makes the VCI so special is the institutional support systems that it provides. VCI has allowed me to recognize that I do belong, that I am worthy of working on Capitol Hill, and that I am truly a part of the hustle and bustle of the 117th Congress.