Navigating the Scary Changes of a New Chapter

Posted on Friday, Feb 10, 2017

The beginning of this semester has been pretty eye opening for me. I was terrified about moving to Austin, throwing off my graduation schedule, and leaving my friends. Everyone I’ve gone through my college experience with will be graduated by the time this internship is over. On top of that, finding a housing situation was a nightmare. It’s funny how sometimes you’ll look at some end goal and somehow forget all the difficult logistics that will go along with it. I looked at multiple housing situations that fell through, and talked to multiple potential roommates who decided to go different ways without telling me. I failed to find a subleaser for my place in College Station, which was (and still is) maybe the scariest money situation I’ve ever been in. The interview situation was challenging, and I walked out of each round feeling even more incompetent and unfit for the internship.
I’m the type of person who lets this stuff discourage me. I’m the type of person who would say, “okay, never mind” and walk away. That’s why I’m a senior who has never had an internship.  I am very fond of my comfort zone. I am easily frustrated and I get bogged down when things aren’t going well. Plus...I didn’t really want to leave. Actually, it was the very last thing I wanted to do. I love my friends at A&M so very much, and it’s still hard for me to think that I am going to come back to that quiet little city and everyone else will have moved on with their lives.
That’s why it’s so surprising to me that I never once second-guessed my decision to do this internship. There was never a moment when I thought about dropping out or giving up. It definitely would have been the easier decision. I would have been able to stay with my friends, I wouldn’t have to worry that I’m doing something I’m not cut out for, and I wouldn’t be going into debt for the first time in my young life. There was something about this opportunity that gave me such a calm, knowing attitude. Life could throw every roadblock it wanted at me, I would keep on going. I was completely committed to experiencing the Texas Legislature...even though I knew absolutely nothing about it.
So I found a place in Austin and a roommate who is honestly amazing. I am still scared about the financial situation and really wish that A&M would do more to try and mitigate that cost, but I’m surviving. I’m working at the Texas Capitol.
So I go in on my first day...feeling invincible. I had worked very hard to get to this point and expected it to all be easy coasting from here. Obviously, that was wrong. I won’t say it was impossibly difficult, because I actually really loved my first few weeks. I mesh well with my office mates, and am excited to go spend time with them in the mornings. And overall, I think I’m doing a fairly good job. But it was difficult. I messed up a lot, and no one was very sympathetic about that. Everyone else in my office has political backgrounds (they went to school for it, have held political positions before, etc.) and I feel like a fish out of water sometimes. I spent all of my free time the first few weeks researching policies and Google-searching political terminology I’d never heard before. I met with my bosses over and over to hear everything I’d done wrong and try to do better. I felt like I was being worked to the bone.
But here’s the thing...I still had zero doubts that I wanted to be here. Those meetings about what I had messed up and what I need to get better about? I lived for those. I want so badly to succeed here, and I want every piece of advice I can get to further that success. The other PPIP and ANRP interns are awesome, and we’ve all really bonded over the struggles that we all have. I am a shy, reserved girl who really loves her comfort zone. And yet I’ve decided to turn my entire life upside down, and it isn’t scary at all. I have loved every minute of it and so far I feel like I’m really thriving. Not to say that I haven’t struggled or that I won’t continue to struggle...I have and I will. But it’s been the very best kind of struggle and I cannot wait to see what else I learn or how else I grow as I continue this journey.

Julia Hamilton
Office of State Representative Craig Goldman
Austin, Texas