September 17, 2015

Why Not Me?


The summer after my freshman year of college, my best friend, Erika, and I took a trip down to DC to see the sights and do the things. And by "do the things," I mean "do the free things." Because college.

We walked around the Smithsonian museums and the monuments, and took a nice long stroll by the White House. After a while, we also took advantage of the free benches DC offers and sat down to people watch.

I don't have a great memory but I do remember this moment; I remember Erika saying, "Wouldn't it be cool to be one of those people?" as we watched the very important business women in very important business suits crossing the streets to their presumably very important DC jobs.

I remember this moment because I did what I usually do when Erika starts scheming our world takeover projects: I nodded and smiled and thought she was nuts. Because at nineteen, I realized that not every six-year-old becomes an astronaut, even if their mom helped them spell "astronaut" right. By nineteen, I had learned enough to know that somewhere on the way from first grade homework assignments to Mars, most six-year-olds become secretaries, or sales representatives, or human resource managers, or really, just any job that comes with benefits.

I don't  know if that means I was realistic or jaded. I guess nineteen is just when you realize that every mom is telling their daughters that she is the specialist, brightest, most beautiful future world changer out there. (If you're a lucky daughter, that is.) And once you catch on to those mothers and realize that we can't all be the specialist, brightest, most beautiful... you begin wondering, "Why me?" Like, why would I change the world? Why would I get a job at the capital? Why am I different?

Now, six years later, I'm writing this blog post in a hotel room before I take a cab to K street, two blocks down from the White House. I'm here on a work trip, wearing a very important dress with very important heels, and I am assuming that around noon, I will walk across a brick DC street to get a very important salad for lunch.

That's what some nineteen-year-old sitting on a bench would see, at least.

Really, I feel like that same nineteen-year-old I was six years ago. I'm kind of confused about how I got here and even more confused about where I'm going. I feel guilty about ordering overpriced DC salads, and I have three CVS blister pads on my right foot because these shoes are not so much important as they are excruciatingly uncomfortable. 

Basically, I've uncovered the secret: those "very important" people I saw six years ago weren't actually superheros; they were people a lot like me who were probably just making it up as they go.

Which makes you think: if it's possible for a regular human to be one of those DC dress wearers, why wouldn't it be possible to be one of those other people you thought you could never be? Why couldn't I be the author of a book? Why couldn't I write something read by millions, not just Mom? What if JK Rowling is just a regular person who did incredible things? Why couldn't regular me do incredible things too?

Basically, as I'm rolling around here in my comfy Georgetown hotel sheets, I realize now what nineteen-year-old me should have realized then: the real question you've got to ask yourself is, "Why not me?"