Capital Views: I'm Gonna Make it After All

My first week as working girl is complete. In my first blog, I imagined it to be something just like this:

Well, not really. It went something more like this: most days I didn’t have a chance to look up at the high, beautiful buildings surrounding me as I walked off the Metro because I was running late, in a hurry to get to work. No, no time to pause and twirl and hurl my beret into the air. And with that, my dream of being Mary Richards reincarnated came to a screeching halt.

The desk supplies I turn to for my office needs.
Photo by Katie Levingston/Gavel Media

I quickly got into the routine of a working life. I walk through the large glass doors of AARP’s A building and hold my ID card up to the little scanner and hear the beep, a sound that seems to tell me I belong.

Maybe I am going to make it after all. I then walk across an atrium to the AARP B building and get in an elevator and ride up to the ninth floor. I arrive at my cubicle and settle in: put my purse in a drawer, throw my lunch into a nearby refrigerator, and log in to my computer. I pull out my notepad and a pen. I check my email and read up on the latest AARP news, like the Mary Richards little intern I am.

I check my email again. I check out the clock. I stop in to say hi to my colleagues. I’m working on an article for internal communications so I interview someone. I write the article. I check my email. And, there you have it. Just rinse and repeat.

I am now fully immersed in the working world and, well, it’s not like the stuff on TV. It was pretty exciting for a day, but the encore performances got mundane and familiar pretty quickly. I think about the majority of the working world – they’re not all Mary Richardses and Lou Grants, full of witty repartee and meaningful moments. For most people, work is just work, that they have to do, and do again the next day because there is no other foreseeable option.gavel1

As college students, we are at the prime of our lives. We have been told this countless times. It’s our time to question, explore, and do things we never thought we would do. And that, I realize, is because there will be no other time like this. It just hit me, and OMG it’s sinking in. I am a rising junior, half way through college. I hate saying that - “half way through college.” It’s very definite, like the end is near, like the reality that is our lives is coming all too soon.

These are my best friends snappin' away at the Sculpture Garden.
Photo by Katie Levingston/Gavel Media

But think of it this way: it’s pretty exciting.  The whole world is open to us, as corny as that sounds. And if we’re smart we can figure out what to make of work and life; that is, we can find the right balance between work and life. Just this week, I trotted into work every day but I also saw my friends and family at night.

On Friday, my friends and I went to a "Jazz Night" at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. I went to a play with my parents at the Arena Stage Theater.

Chillin' by the Potomac River.
Photo by Katie Levingston/Gavel Media

On my way there I took the wrong Metro train and somehow ended up at the Pentagon, which at the time really bothered me, but looking back I realize that making mistakes is all part of this Mary-Richards-On-Her-Own working game. I wore my H&M gray blazer and a dress - on casual Friday. Classic intern move, I know.

For Memorial Day weekend, I got the chance to sit along the edge of the Potomac River at a neighbor’s parents’ house and think about all of this and fashion my working girl philosophy after just a week on the job.

What I have learned: don’t fall into the humdrum of a working life. Do what you love and do it every day. It’s easy to say but not so easy to do. And, make sure you surround yourself with people who make it all worthwhile. Stay tuned for some more mistakes (I’ve been known to fall down stairs, so it’s really only a matter of time) and perhaps some more working life lessons if I’m lucky enough to grasp them.

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