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.
“Ungod yourself. The fate of the world does not rest on your shoulders”. – Ashley Ford
Those two sentences hit me like a ton of bricks. Since touching down in Washington, D.C., my mind has lingered on the idea that I need to be grinding 24/7 and take advantage of ALL opportunities that exist. I committed myself to attending every networking event, happy hour, and social convenings over the past 7 weeks to guarantee myself a job and somewhere to live by the end of my internship because I truly believe that Washington, D.C. is my place. It is the city that will allow me to flourish, grow, and become the best version of myself.
The idea of constantly working and networking, which seems to be the normalized prominent culture, has exhausted me. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I’m exhausted. As someone living with a disability, I’m familiar with listening to my body. Any time my body signals to me that we need a break or we need to unwind and decompress, I automatically listen. Listening to one’s body is something that many people continue to struggle with, both able-bodied and disabled people. However, I have denied myself the grace to listen to my body since my arrival to D.C. and I’ve been experiencing the consequences. Although I have only one week left in my internship, one lesson that I’m taking from my experience in Washington, D.C. is to ensure that I continue to listen to my body and allow myself to rest.
In my Senate office, my staff assistant and supervisors have been extremely compassionate and understanding. Acknowledging that Capitol Hill is a place that continues to run outside the 9-to-6 work hours, it’s been relieving to hear the staff in the office ask me “How are you?” “How are you feeling?” “Is the workload too much, do you need a break?” These questions, which seem simple to any ordinary person, are world changing to me. The invitation of extending grace through these questions have aided me in reminding me to take care of myself and to go at my own pace. Especially as a recent graduate trying to figure out what my next steps are, I need to remind myself to take a step back, reflect, and ground myself.
In line with being exhausted, I’ve also felt extremely fulfilled. The Legislative Correspondent in my office has been one of the most wonderful supervisors I’ve had. She places so much trust in me to tackle and complete a variety of projects and assignments, including drafting constituent response letters and researching legislation. It feels incredible to be able to be a small part of these processes and make a difference. My time in the office has given me perspective and gratitude to the work that all staffers do in congressional offices, realizing everyone’s work together can lead to monumental impact.
On July 7, 2022, I had the opportunity to attend a speaking series held by Free the Facts at the International Spy Museum which featured best selling author and educator Ashley C. Ford. During the panel session where the moderator asked Mrs. Ford multiple questions regarding her life and experiences, one piece of advice that stuck with me was the idea of “ungodding” yourself. She explained, in the most digestible way, that the fate of the world does not rest on our shoulders and we do not have the power to control everything. Give yourself grace. Everything will be okay. These are words that I’ve been constantly telling myself but it felt immensely powerful hearing it from someone else. Even someone as confident as me needs that external validation and wisdom.
Since hearing those words, I’ve shifted my mindset, keeping in mind that as I continue my journey, to extend myself grace. We all deserve grace.