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.
Nike was the Greek Goddess of Victory, both in war and peaceful competition, monumented by the famous sculpture, ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’. Nike stands tall with confidence in her many depictions. One of the most notable things about the statue is that many of her identifying features have been lost over time — her head, left arm, and feet never being recovered, and her right arm never being restored. I find the erasure of these features even more important to the interpretation of the art, and while it may no longer represent the artist’s original meaning, it now symbolizes so much more.
Working on Capitol Hill has been exciting, a rush since the first day that seems to never die. I find myself thinking of the Winged Victory statue these days, reflecting on how anonymous the statue has become over time, and yet how that anonymity is empowering. Success is not structured, it is not perfect, and it looks different to everyone- perfectly mirrored by the statue’s state. She could look like anyone or anything. Everyone imagines her full form differently. The completed picture of Nike is unique to the viewer’s perspective.
In my attempts to find what “victory” looks like to me, I am scheduling meetings with every staffer I can trap into agreeing to a coffee break, where I interrogate them on how they found their career path and what led them to working in their current positions. I cannot stop coming up with questions, trying to understand their view of the “statue”. Desperate for answers, for a ‘one size fits all’ explanation or a set of directions on where to go from here, I try to gather as much background as I can from the staffers. It is still taking me time to come to terms with the fact that I will never get the answer I want, that success is different for everybody, and that no one can picture my success for me. Still, there are so many options here, so many positions I have never been aware of and so much potential for future career paths.
My office is so supportive, asking how they can help, offering people from different teams to make connections with- I think the endless options are almost overwhelming. I am fascinated by the communications team, I can easily picture myself pursuing that path and loving every second of it- but if I do that am I betraying the reason I am here? I am here to represent those who do not have the opportunity that I do. Would I be wasting that by taking a position in which I do not directly work to advocate or pass legislation on their behalf? I am here so others don’t have to be, but does that mean I have to restrict myself to what positions would be most beneficial at the cost of not pursuing what interests me most? There are questions other people cannot answer for me, but it will take time for me to find the answers on my own.
I do not know what I want the statue to look like yet, but with every coffee, with every introduction and hostage-style interrogation, I get a slightly better picture. This opportunity is so much more than working in Washington, D.C.; it is a chance to meet people I never would have otherwise, to ask for their interpretations and learn from them. It is a chance to re-draw the statue of Victory, to find both myself and my calling.