Goodbye For Now

Before I started college, I was very nervous about how I was going to fit in. Being a first-generation student meant that I didn’t have many resources to help me learn about college life. The first stanza of the poem resonated with my work ethic in connection to school. Due to my circumstances, I learned to work hard and ask a lot of questions. Thankfully, those two skills have gotten me through the last 3 years of college. As children we are taught that success is a product of hard work, but what they don’t teach us is that some people are born into success. While I may not have had an easy path to my “success”, I have found that having to work for the things I have makes me appreciate them more. I always consider myself one of the lucky ones. The sixth stanza in this poem reminds me of how lucky I feel to have opportunities. To me this part of the poem says that we should not take things for granted because there are others that wish they were in our place. 

As we all know, poetry is subjective. This specific poem has a lot of information to digest and not everything is organized perfectly to fit my life. The second and eighth stanzas are the two that relate the most to my internship this summer. To me, the second stanza is trying to say we should be tolerant of others. As well as, being selfish does not benefit the greater cause. Being in D.C. has made me realize that our country is very divided. My internships this summer on capitol hill put me in the middle of the division. I was forced to see both sides of the aisle (literally). The amount of selfish and intolerant people I have seen on capitol hill, showed me how ugly things can get. As a citizen of this country, I plan to do my part in making the U.S. a better country for all of us.

In regard to my future, the third stanza makes me remember that patience is the key. Sometimes I am quick to rush into things, but I have to remind myself that I am young, and I have time. Following that same logic, the fourth stanza tells me that good things come to those who wait. I have a lot of plans for the future, but I am constantly tormented with the idea that I am running out of time. Becoming a lawyer is a lengthy process with many barriers for a person like me but with hard work and patience, I will get there. In addition, I think it is important to be happy with my career. The final stanza is a lesson on happiness, it says that doing something you love will never seem like work. I am very passionate about helping others and specifically my community. So, my hope is that while I continue to help my community, I will always be happy doing my job. 

I believe the most important thing I learned throughout my time here, has been that I do not want to be in D.C. at the moment. My happiness resides with seeing the people I help on a daily basis. To work on capitol hill is a great honor and a very important job, but it does not bring me happiness. I was able to meet a lot of individuals who love their jobs on the hill and that brings me comfort. While I may not want to work on capitol hill, there are many other competent people who do. Perhaps in the future I will change my mind and decide to return to the hill. For now, I will be returning to Arizona with an abundance of knowledge, resources, and connections, that will help me achieve my goals. 

Robert Frost Poem Reflection

For today’s blog I’m going to relate some central themes/famous citations from the poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time” by Robert Frost, to the ending of my time here interning in Washington DC. One of the central lessons discussed in this poem is that if work is that if you love what you do, you never have to work in the future. This theme can be found in the last line “Only where love and necessity are united in one, and the work is a sort of game for human beings, there the work is ever really done for Heaven and for the betterment of the future.” In the last few weeks this sentiment has become particularly relatable as I’ve been treading the end of my internship.

Social media draft for new district content

The entire internship has felt like a metamorphosis of the maturity and overall world view as I approach life. In the short time that I have been here I have development to become a sharper skilled professional, and wiser overall individual. Each day in the office I accomplished several different tasks and projects on a wide range. For example, I have been able to dive into creating both a communications and legislative portfolio. In either of these work projects I developed the know of how skills I had not worked on in previous internships and jobs. For communications, I designed five social media templates that were taken as recommendations for new content for the congressman’s Instagram page. In addition to these designs, I wrote a press release on a five bill education policy package where I learned to condense complex information into a short document. This writing sample was my most enjoyable to complete because I loved the creativity of framing the public exposure on the congressman as a leader for education reform. The press work of the office didn’t feel like work in my experience because I enjoyed being in touch with my more creative side of my skill set, and using that creativity to produce meaningful and important work.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller taking the oath before the House Intelligence Committee testimony

I have learned this week that the work in congress I have is such a privilege and it is truly an honor to have worked in our nation’s capital. There days where historic moments that affect the nation are within walking distance and arms reach. Depending on the response of democratic majority, including my congressman I work for, the course of history could possible change that will affect generations. I know that this experience is one that I’ll remember forever, and I will miss deeply as I take on new challenges.

CNN Live footage of me sitting behind Special Counsel Mueller and his legal team

A second connection to the last line of the Robert Frost poem, I would say relates my legislative experiences. Throughout my internship I was able to attend 2 briefings by nonprofit and think tank groups, as well as two committee hearings. In each of these experiences I felt that I had become a sponge for the information on the various topics that encompassed these hearings. My most memorable moment was today, Thursday June 24th when I was able to attend the House Intelligence committee testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller. This was the most anticipated hearing of the summer, with what felt like the entire country paying attention to the hearing. I was in the room while history was unfolding before my eyes as the special investigator to the President of the United States, and multiple high ranking members of congress discussed possible responses including impeachment. This hearing showed me exactly why I enjoyed coming to work every day on the hill

Don’t You… Forget About Me

This summer with Capital Scholars is one that I will always remember. Coming into the program I had an idea of how enriching the program would be for me because of the faculty running it and the personal testimonies from past Capital Scholars, but the program definitely surpassed all of my prior expectations.

For a long time, I had a tendency to look at life as a series of tasks that needed to be completed in order for you to be happy. But what I took from the poem, Two Tramps in the Mud, is how I like to look at life now; your work is never done. Not in a negative sense by any means, but to look at life as a constant continuum. Happiness is not an abstract thing you eventually earn by your works here on earth. Happiness is something you can create wherever you are. This summer, I have to define my happiness as never losing wonder; to never get to a point where I ask myself, “Is this it?”. Through the good and the bad along the surprises and disappointments of my time here in Washington DC, I have learned to always chase the good. Even when the good is really good or bad seems like too much, just chase the good anyway. Sometimes, that chasing looks a lot like dwelling in times when you need peace as you catch yourself striving for too much. Other times, chasing the good looks like fighting for your sanity when everything feels like its spiralling out of control. You have to know yourself enough to discern what you need in the moment, and every experience that you have in life is an opportunity to discover a new part of yourself. Most of my self growth thus far in my college undergrad experience has been personal, but this summer incorporated more of my professional growth than ever before. 

To reference back to Robert Frost’s poem, starting your professional career is all about keeping a balance. As soon as you forget to appreciate what you have or slip into a mind state of comparison it throws off your balance. When you lose your confidence in yourself that is when the adversity seems to surmount into something that feels impossible to overcome. It is also important to be realistic with yourself and your shortcomings. My internship with the Center for International Policy in their Africa Program has helped me realize the areas that I thrive in and the areas that definitely need more refinement. Because of my experience working at a think tank in DC, I have opened so many more possibilities and made valuable connections with people who care and are more than willing to help me succeed in my endeavors. CIP has also helped me broaden my knowledge of the African continent past West Africa, which is what most of my knowledge of Africa previously consisted of. 

Now, when I look at Kayla I am more confident in the intellectual that I know myself to be, and when I look at life I don’t stress about the challenges ahead. I get excited.

That’s All For Now, Folks

“Nothing on either side was said.

They knew they had but to stay their stay

And all their logic would fill my head:

As that I had no right to play

With what was another man’s work for gain.

My right might be love but theirs was need.

And where the two exist in twain

Theirs was the better right–agreed.”

As I read the poem Two Tramps In Mud Time, I can’t help but to reflect on the summer I have spent in DC. It has made me think long and hard about the time I have spent here, but even more so my future here in DC. In the stanza I copied above, I interpreted this to be a battle between the differences and the struggles that we may have internally about our needs/necessities and our desires and passions. As the author in the poem struggles with the idea of doing something that he loves versus doing something that someone else needs, I definitely thought long and hard about the life of an intern here in DC. This is the time that we are still getting our feet wet and having fun before we jump into our careers, where there can be much more at stake.

Even though this explanation seems like it is playing on the ideas of hierarchy and levels of seniority, I think it actually plays on one’s mentality and the headspace you are in when you approach your work. We all came to DC this summer as bright-eyed, eager, passionate interns that were ready to make the most of every opportunity we came across, and let me just say- we definitely did that! Although we were all getting our hands dirty, elbows deep in our work assignments, we sure as heck have had a fun time doing so- absorbing every moment and every piece of information like a sponge.

I feel that even though I came to DC with just a spark of that eagerness and excitement, that spark has lit a fire beneath me to push myself to the next levels and to grow beyond what I ever imagined to be possible for myself. And I worry about what would happen if I lost that fire somehow. I think about the need in this stanza of the poem to be referring to the need to nurture your inner flame to take care of yourself and keep your passions burning deep inside. We must not forget or neglect the things we need to do to take care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually in order to keep ourselves in a good space. When we are in that good space, we can keep doing the things we love without them becoming a hassle or a burden. This week I learned that maybe I enjoyed doing yoga with my roommates a little bit more than I would have liked to admit. Even in the 20 minute session we did (and even though Nicki and I couldn’t take it seriously for the first 7 minutes), I felt some mental clarity and physical relief of tension in my muscles afterwards. The point is, in the midst of a very busy and stressful work week, it is important to find ways to take care of yourself so that you do not carry around burdens in your mind or on your shoulders. What you need and what you love should go hand in hand and they are certainly intertwined. Self-care is important as it kindles the fire of our loves, desires, and passions.

Throughout the summer, I have learned so much about myself, who I am, who I want to be, and how to be that person. I would like to think that I’m doing a pretty good job of doing that so far. I owe much of my growth to my roommates and my friends that I have made throughout the summer. Never in my life have I spent so much time with people who encourage and empower me to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. In my first blog post, I remember writing about how there is something so exciting and encouraging about being in DC, a place where there is so much happening. But now I realize that much of that comes down to people you meet and it is not just the city itself. I hear every day about the incredible things that my friends, roommates, and fellow Capital Scholars are doing and it inspires me to put my best foot forward. I hear about the things my coworkers and supervisors have accomplished and it encourages me to be the best version of myself. It is a level of inspiration and energy that I never truly experienced back home, and I think that is the magic of DC.

C8:

It feels like just yesterday, it was May and I was on a plane heading to Washington D.C. I blinked and all of a sudden, it’s almost August. Two Tramps in Mud speaks on the passing of time in the same manner and I resonate with it.

You know how it is with an April day

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You’re one month on in the middle of May

The passing of time is the strangest experience and one that cannot be avoided. Being aware of this fact, I did all that I could do to soak in the moments as often as I could, but they slipped me- if I even dared to blink. I noticed that though I tried to mindfully appreciate what was happening in my life, simply reading and responding to emails was enough noise to turn 8am to 5:30pm. I also resonated with the line in the poem when the author says

The judged me by their appropriate tool

Entering the working field is interesting because it’s such a different culture than school. In the working world they had different measurement tools for success. In coming to my internship, I knew there were things I had to learn but those things were based on the tools I used in the past. The 9-5 life had a different set of tools to scale me out and I was caught off guard with how much I had to learn. I understood by this, that in each season of my life there will be different tools I will experience- meaning different things I would have to learn.

There were so many times in this program that I found myself being so happy over the simplest things, I was “glad of water.” Shortly after, I would experience a turmoil of some sort- and then “glad of water” again. Therefore this stanza of the poem when the author says: 

 Be glad of water, but don’t forget

The lurking frost in the earth beneath

That will steal forth after the sun is set

And show on the water its crystal teeth

was a reminder how it’s important to know in times of turmoil- there will be sun and in times of sun-there will be frost. This is the case, not only in Washington D.C. but throughout life.

The strangers in the poem came from mud, and the act of catching the writer while he was splitting wood, leads me to believe they came out of nowhere, they weren’t expected.  One was cheering him on-saying the right things- “hit them hard”- but instead of promoting his perfect aim it ends up putting him off his aim. The writer knew that they didn’t mean it, it wasn’t genuine, and they really just wanted something else. During this internship I have encountered similar experiences. There were times people were saying the right things to me with the wrong intentions and those intentions they thought they can conceal, were visible to me. How I responded then, was the art I wanted to cultivate. Though in my case, it wasn’t to take my job for pay.

Lastly, I thought it was interesting that the writer would call the wood “unimportant.” Looking at everything I do in the grand scale of things, the universe, the world, etc.. I sometimes realize that unless I am impacting another individual’s life for the better- no matter how well I do it, it is unimportant. This means a great deal for my future because it made me realize, I am not cut out for administrative tasks and 9-5 just to pay the bill jobs. I need substance and nothing is substance in my eyes than enhancing the life of my fellow man. 

Lastly, lastly, as my internship is coming to an end, I realized that I wasn’t finished with my work- because it is not a project you can finish. I realized that I would have to hand one of my projects over to another individual and that same cycle would repeat because as the author said, 

Is the deed ever really done. 

This week I learned that silence is most often the best answer to stupidity. Not every action needs a reaction-if you remember this was the very first thing I wanted to learn in coming to D.C.- the mastering of my emotions. I learned this by focusing on the bigger picture and asking myself what I am here to accomplish, and letting the rest wrestle with itself but never bringing it forth so that it is in my way.

Finale



Hello everyone.

Robert Frost’s poem reminded me both of The Madison Group and of the field I wish to enter after graduating; law. At The Madison Group, I am surrounded by people who have differing political views, but all share the same passion for their work. Throughout the many clients we represent, there is no one at The Madison Group that places making money as their primary focus in life; everything at the firm is done for the sole reason that Robb, Marissa, Marcus, and David love their work, with making a healthy living a direct result of that love. I said in one of my early posts that I loved my job, and that statement still reins true; if I were offered a job here today I would take it in a heartbeat.

What is interesting to me is how clear it is when someone works towards something for money versus when they work out of love for what they do. For example, when I was sworn in as an ASU Senator at the end of my freshman year, I did not know I was going to be getting paid until the end of summer; I simply ran for election because I have a passion and a love for leadership, and representation of those who deserve it. On the other hand, there was also an incoming Senator (who shall remain unnamed) who clearly did not love his position, and was only doing it for the power, glory, and money. This Senator in particular hardly showed up to Senate meetings, and when asked for updates would simply reply “I spoke with a constituent”. This person clearly did not love what they were doing and it was obvious; they simply did what they did in order to make money in college.

Another example of how obvious it is when an individual does not love what they do is evident in some of the students who decide to enter law school. There are students who truly love the study of law and have a genuine passion for practicing law after graduating. However, there are also students who clearly would not love practicing law and only want to enter the profession in order to make a ton of money. It is clear which student is which by simply asking why they decided to attend law school; often times I ask prospective law students why they want to attend and I am given the response “because I want to work in business law to make a ton of money”. I can’t help but think, “good luck on your law school applications with that attitude” when I hear those responses.

To me, Frost’s poem seemed to display these differences between someone who loves their work, and someone who only does it for the money. The question is however, does it matter what an individual’s intentions are for working in a particular job? So what if someone is only doing a certain job to make money’ why is that something to be frowned upon? To answer the first question, I would state that yes it does matter what an individual’s intentions are for working in a particular field. Now let us look into the second question, as to why it matters.

At first, it initially seems as if there is nothing intrinsically wrong with going into a particular field simply because you want money compared to a love for the field as a whole. After all, if you are good at what you do, why should anyone care about whether you love it or just want to make good money off of your work? Well to this I would initially argue that whether you love your work or not will impact how good you are at your job. Surely someone who hates being a lawyer will not be able to represent their clients as well as someone who loves being a lawyer. To this, the skeptic might reply that even though someone may love their job, they still may be terrible at it; this seems to display that being “good” at something is not reliant on a love or hatred of it. After all, there are surely fantastic soldiers who hate violence and only joined the military for the monetary benefits that the military provides.

Based off of this testimony, it seems to follow that being able to be good at your job should be represented independently from either loving or hating your job but utilizing it to make lots of money. So if you can be great at your job whether you love it or just want to get money from it, what is intrinsically wrong with just doing something to make money? I would argue that the issue is within yourself. Although you may be the best at what you do, and make a ton of money at it, you will never be truly satisfied until you love what you do. take for example Michelle Obama, who was a lawyer at a large Detroit law firm but completely unfulfilled. She didn’t love what she did and as a result, was constantly in a state of being unfulfilled with her work, and thereby unhappy until she decided to work with young minority women in order to help them find jobs. Although it was considerably less pay than what she was used to, it was worth it for her because she truly loved what she was doing.

I assert this: the only thing wrong with doing a job for money rather than because of love, is that you will be unsatisfied with what you are doing for as long as you hold that position. For that reason alone, you should focus on pursuing what you love, and allowing the money to follow the passion. I love the law, international politics, and philosophy (clearly), so for me, becoming an international lawyer and moving through the diplomacy route for my career is a fantastic fit for me, that would allow me to be fulfilled in my position. However, someone who is uninterested in law and only wants to become a lawyer to make lots of money would most likely be unfulfilled throughout their career, leading to a less happy life.

This past week, I learned that you shouldn’t trust someone who just got their drivers license with a golf cart. At an event for The Madison Group, my fellow interns and I were stationed at a golf course at a nearby country club, where we were set to help out some of the attendees. One of the interns, who just got his drivers license last week somehow was able to get a hold of one of the golf carts instead of myself, Alex or Leon. He actually did surprisingly well except for one point in which he forgot to put the cart in park, and when he got out, it was like a cartoon, watching him chase after the golf cart rolling backwards down the road. Put your car/cart in park kids.

Troy



Questioning the Status Quo

From being an avid creator of poetry and gaining a likening of poetry one aspect that I self-discovered is that a poem never has just one meaning, it is OK not to like a poem, all poems cannot relate to your specific position in your life.

This jolts my memory to the lack of diversity in poetry and writing samples in standardized tests and courses. One aspect of poetry is that it acts as a way to bring minority voices to the forefront of conversation and acts as a platform to bring oppression and injustice into light. Historically, it acted as a scared way to bring those guilty into the bright light of justice.

Going back to my days as a High School Senior and relating it to my trip this is how I would answer the prompt that was given to me:

The first stanza seems to elucidate the duality and hidden meaning of individualism, and the hidden fear that the introduction of others invites within the mind. As the character is jolted by this interaction, I can’t help but liken this to my introduction to Washington DC, at first, I was out of my element by that of others having more experience than myself but know I laugh at my previous thoughts. This was a superficial view that was harnessed by the initial hesitation of the narrator, just my own displeasure of asking for the assistance of others

But I have seen my own individualism or in Robert Frosts words “My object in living is to unite/My avocation and my vocation/As my two eyes make one in sight.”

But as an African American individual that has been introduced to a wide variety of culture and black culture outright a poem of representation is important. A that best describes one personal growth, their high points and low points, and their ultimate success through a program such as Capitol Scholars is my ultimate perception Robert Frosts poem.

Through the beauty of poetry, I have learned that it is personal and that for some individuals that love poetry you cannot simply put a collection of words on your body and hope they fit. This process is intimate, isolating and quite personal, If I were to pick a poem that would describe my time here, I would pick: Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Like Frost almost everything in this world has another meaning than what is intended. There is never only one perfect answer, one perfect question or one perfect skillset. Frost summarizes it best “The lurking frost in the earth beneath…” this frost rises gradually to the surface as the poem reaches its end. In my analysis how I am choosing to define this is that Frost as the narrates his own wisdom which is gained, through her/his own individualism and ultimately their own voice and ability to decide.

And this brings me to what I have learned this week and during my time as an Intern in Washington, the old way is not the right way in fact it could be the worst way. I have leaned that as the metaphorical frost rises and expands to the area it affects it grows gradually to different parts never before affected. And through going to congressional hearings from a wade array of topics I understand that a lot of reasons why issues keep being talked from the time of this poems creation (1930’s) is to the lack of “frost” or ability to expand in ones own the political realm.

Just like the diverse themes of Roberts Frosts “Two Tramps in Mud Time” my personal growth this summer has a multitude of themes that elevate my own “frost” upwards. As I am becoming older, I notice that academia and institutions seek to have a fixed “hive mind” of thinking for students but attempting to do that only seals your fate “ in the lurking frost in the earth beneath.”

Learn, grow, make mistakes and most importantly don’t conform.

A Final Reflection

As I sit down to right this last blog post I begin to think about the journey that led me to this point.  From my days a college baseball player who thought I was not very smart, to getting a reality check on life and heading back home to attend community college, I have seen a growth in myself that I am very proud of.  In my last year of community college, I buckled down and finished the courses that I needed to move on with the best grades I had ever received.  As I was transferring over to Arizona State, I found out about the Capital Scholars Program talking with my advisor, was instantly hooked, and spent all fall semester doing what I needed to do to get into the program.  I saw hard work get paid when I was accepted and found an internship later that spring semester.

For our last blog post, all the Capital Scholars were asked to read the poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time” and use it to reflect on this summer, our time at ASU, and our futures.  This poem reflected on me in a very special way.  The poem reads for me as a deep appreciation for hard work and that is exactly how I was raised.  My father from a young age taught my siblings and I the meaning and appreciation of hard work in physical labor and in the classroom.  For a long time, those lessons were lost on me in the classroom but I did apply them in things like baseball.  I was never the most athletic, strongest, or fasted kid growing up but I was able to improve in those qualities and even become the best in some of them by working harder than others.  Once I hung up those cleats for good and understood the true value of school, I remembered where I had come from in baseball, the work that I put in, the results that yielded from that work, and I knew that if I just applied that mentality to school I would see similar results.

In the poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time” the poet laments how the two men who have come to see him cut wood do not enjoy the labor that the work requires but the older man does.  He has joy in the work because he knows what the results of that labor is and can appreciate the work in real time.  As I look into the future as my graduation is around the corner this spring, I think about much I have come to appreciate work.  My father is the hardest working person I know as he could work from dusk to dawn without eating anything and keep going the next day.  I came to learn how he’d come to appreciate his work because of what it provided for him and while there may be others who may have the physical strength to do more, they can never match the value of his work because of his appreciation for it.  As I have come to love school more than I had in the past I am finding opportunities opening up right before me.  No matter where I go and work in life, I want to appreciate the work I do because of what it will provide for me.

A Reflection.

It’s extremely hard for me to believe that in just three short days, I’ll be on a plane back to Arizona. While reading “Two Tramps In Mud Time” By Robert Frost, I was reflecting on my experience in DC this summer and how formative it truly was to my future goals and aspirations in life. The following are my favorite stanzas and explaining how they resonated with me and my time here.

“Good blocks of oak it was I split,

As large around as the chopping block;

And every piece I squarely hit

Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.

The blows that a life of self-control

Spares to strike for the common good,

That day, giving a loose my soul,

I spent on the unimportant wood.”

After being criticized by the tramp, the speaker decides to split the wood down the middle despite their “life of self-control.” I believe this stanzsa speaks of a person who has always had order and discipline in their life has gained agency of their lives and decide to go outside the norm, even if it doesn’t help others. Going out of your comfort zone and braving to go outside of your norm is something I’ve challenged everyday I’ve been in DC this summer. While I’ve spent my whole life meticulously planning my next step, the most important revelation I made is that life will never go according to plan so it’s better to simply go with it.

“The water for which we may have to look

In summertime with a witching wand,

In every wheelrut’s now a brook,

In every print of a hoof a pond.

Be glad of water, but don’t forget

The lurking frost in the earth beneath

That will steal forth after the sun is set

And show on the water its crystal teeth.”

This one mainly resonated to me as the importance of balance in nature and in life – one cannot function without the other. Even the most disciplined individuals have to find the time to loosen up a little and be more spontaneous. A work/life balance is extremely vital to a substantive life. Happiness cannot truly be appreciated without some sadness.

“But yield who will to their separation,

My object in living is to unite

My avocation and my vocation

As my two eyes make one in sight.

Only where love and need are one,

And the work is play for mortal stakes,

Is the deed ever really done

For Heaven and the future’s sakes.”

This one was the most interesting to me. After splitting this wood to show up the tramps who dare usurp him, the speaker thinks about how he is doing the work because he genuinely enjoys it, not solely for compensation. This symbolizes the unity of the external and internal struggles with your work. The speaker has accomplished what the tramps have not realized yet – joining need and love together is the ultimate satisfaction in life. We do not do the work that we do solely for the salary and benefits – we do our work because our passion lies in our jobs. As humans, we strive to “leave our mark on the world” and leave a legacy, but so much of human existence revolves around joining what you must do and what you love to do.

I am sad to miss DC but I know there is a world of opportunity waiting for me back home. I’m grateful for the Capital Scholars program for giving me the opportunity to align my career goals further and better understand myself.

 

Best,

Carla Naranjo

 

Lady and the Tramps

One of my favorite lines of modern day poetry goes as follows:

You know what:

I love myself;

Even though I look like a burnt chicken nugget,

I still love myself.

-Unknown, 2014

Knowing now that people actually read my blog posts (Hi Geilia and Ashley! I love you guys and I’ll miss you so much and I am so thankful for the chance to meet you and I can’t believe we have less than a week together), I clearly don’t have to continue to reiterate in great detail how I was not the most confident woman going into this summer. There are a million reasons that was the case, but I’ll make the argument that, symbolically, it was due to two tramps: 1) those who told me throughout my life that I wasn’t smart enough, strong enough, good enough etc; and 2) the voice inside my head that believed that they were right. 

I leave DC Monday, July 29th. It’s a later flight but it’s still not late enough. I have so much left to see and I can’t wait to come back as soon as possible. This city has instilled in me a confidence and light that I would have never found anywhere else. Never before have I felt so much power, grace, and class. However, I also feel like I have so much more to learn and so much space to grow; that is what truly makes me excited for the future. 

A year ago, if you had told me I wasn’t good enough to cut wood, I would have not just stumbled and missed my target; I would have most likely put my axe down for good or handed it over to you. That is not the case anymore. If you were to tell me I wasn’t good enough at cutting wood today, I’d say, “watch this, you tramp,” and I’d cut that wood right the middle blindfolded because I’m more focused than a cat watching a bird through a window and because I’m probably hyped up on caffeine to the point I have super strength. If I was giving a presentation on how foreign aid actually saves the U.S. money in the long run and you stood up and told me I had no idea what I was talking about, I’d let you finish because I respect that everyone has the right to speak up and embarrass themselves and then I’d whip out mad facts and examples and shut you right down.

If you’ve ever heard the word “mansplaining”, you know that the speaker/tramp dynamic in Frost’s poem occurs in a professional setting commonly. Women are constantly having their passions and expertisies explained to them and overshadowed by men who believe that they are the true experts. Now, it is not only men that feel the need to put those around them down for their own gain, but I have come to realize that whoever the perpetrator may be, I can learn to take their doubt and arrogance as a motivator. I have come to love politics and history more and more and that is due, in part, to the experience I have in constantly being told I am wrong. I am a “leftist” in a family and town of extreme conservatives and I am now ready to go out into the world and use their doubt as fuel to power the unstoppable machine that is my passion to change the world. Because no matter what they say, I’m good and knowledgeable at what I love and they have “no way of knowing a fool” as they sit behind their facebook pages and questionable news outlets. 

That does not mean that I am now immune to criticism and self-doubt; I will always continue to have to fight back my own tendency to put myself down and listen to my critics. I can pretend all I want that I have totally forgotten my insecurities; that I have flown right past April to May where I am flying high and blooming and loving life. But unfortunately, that is not how mental illness works. I know that there is the chance that my May mood will sharply turn to a March depression that I will half to force down with everything I have.

However, the most important thing I have learned is that I am really skilled with an axe now and I am ready to cut that crap right in half. There are 12 months in a year and my March can’t last forever, even if tramps are appearing out of mud to try to bring me down. 

I wish you all a long April, with whatever ups and downs come with it. It has been a pleasure and honor to be here and grow with you all and even if you get to a place that is cold and dark and freezing, know that you will always have someone who remembers your worth and strength and talent, even if you can’t.