Rookie Mistakes

Posted on Monday, Mar 28, 2016

Being given the opportunity to live here for a semester meant I needed to step up my game and avoid the rookie mistakes that I am so prone to making. However, upon my arrival here, I learned that no amount of researching could prepare me to evade the rookie mistakes that awaited me. Sometime, you just have to relish in the failure and learn from your mistakes. These are three lessons I did not even know I needed to learn until I totally failed at them.

Rookie Mistake #1: Standing on the left side of an escalator. 
I had read countless online forums about living in DC that all mentioned this small fact, but never really stressed the importance of it. You walk on the left side, you stand on the right side. This is not a suggestion, nor an option, and you indeed will be yelled at by a local if you stand on the wrong side. There’s a certain pace of how people commute in this city, and this whole standing/walking aspect to it is one that people take way more seriously than I could have imagined. Walk on left. Stand on right. Believe me, this will save you.
 
Rookie Mistake #2: Not recognizing important people.
I got a little story for ya, ags. I intern at The Heritage Foundation, which is a conservative think-tank and we often times invite prominent political figures to come and speak at events. A few weeks ago I was attending the Conservative Policy Summit and shared the elevator with a few gentlemen who were kind enough to indulge me in elevator small talk. This was great… until I got to the room our event was being held in, and realized the 3 men I just met on the elevator were all, in fact, senators. Whoops. My advice would be to research all prominent figures before attending an event cause you never know where you’ll run into them.
 
Rookie Mistake #3: Commuting in cute shoes instead of commuting shoes.
We recently had a blizzard here in DC, one of the worst this city has ever seen. This resulted in some pretty rough terrain for our commute: snow everywhere, ice everywhere, and my personal favorite- black ice. On our first day back to work after the blizzard, I decided to wear my favorite cute, black boots to work because I didn’t want to lug around another pair of shoes all day. These weren’t snow boots, they were just cute and I foolishly opted to wear them. This was a rookie, post blizzard mistake. As my roommate and I left our apartment building, I was mid sentence—“hey, make sure you’re walking carefully because there’s still ice from the--” … and the next thing I know my hands were stinging, I was on the ground, and a nice man was running toward me to see if I was ok. You guessed it, I fell on the ice and you know, I bet it was anything but graceful. So let my fall be a lesson to you—when it doubt, wear comfortable shoes with traction. Cute shoes are for the office not for the commute.
 
I’m unashamed to say I’ll make many more mistakes in my time here in DC, but this experience is unparalleled to any other opportunity I could imagine. The city is beautiful, the friends are unforgettable, and the mistakes you make are just part of the journey.
 
Chelsea DeMasters
The Heritage Foundation
Washington, DC: Spring 2016