Falling in Love With Uncertainty | The Washington Center

Falling in Love With Uncertainty

The Washington Center gave me the opportunity to fall in love with question marks. I entered into this internship program anticipating the completion of my undergraduate degree at the conclusion of my internship. Throughout my life, I have always been what school bullies like to call a nerd. I have looked forward to the end of summer because when September rolled around, I would get to pack my book-bag and head back to class. My love of learning translated into a love of books, post-it-notes and especially the certainty that even though summertime meant I could spend a few weeks by the beach, school was right around the corner.


As I embarked on summer 2016, this certainty and staple of my life—the assurance that school would be waiting for me in the fall—was not the case. Graduation meant the end to the comforting reality that I had a plan to return to with certainty and gusto for the fall. I came to Washington D.C. with a fear that I would leave D.C. after the conclusion of the program and fall into a deep, school-less, pit of despair. My fear was rooted in the uncertainty of tomorrow. My fear of the unknown acted to pressurize my existence and made me feel as though I would accept any potential solution offered to me.


Throughout the summer, as I began to fall in love with Washington D.C., I began falling in love with uncertainty.


During my internship at the Arthritis Foundation, I found that the expertise gleaned from my textbooks were just the foundation for success. Regardless of GPA, attendance record or your in-class stamina, when you leave the school setting and enter the “real world” you realize that what you learned in school is only the beginning. My supervisor likes to nudge me, the nerd, to forget all those things I learned in class because the real learning starts now. Whereas I anticipated the opportunity to apply what I had already learned during my undergraduate experience, I realized in my uncertainty that there was far more learning yet to be done. More importantly, my uncertainty helped me welcome new challenges and learn from them.


Before this summer, my main prerogative was to be the woman with the plan. When I used to travel, I would make an itinerary for the trip, going so far as to Google the average amount of time spent by individuals at museums so I could budget the time in. During my time in D.C., I realized that having a rigidly structured plan sometimes prevented me from seeing the hidden gems that the city had to offer. This summer, I learned to appreciate the uncertainty of starting your day without a plan and just simply going with the flow. I made my best friends here by being flexible with my plans, saying yes when new opportunities presented themselves and embracing the question marks of each day.


This summer has taught me that my best work is accomplished when I am outside of my comfort zone, when I have some question marks informing my thought process, when there is some degree of uncertainty. But this comfort zone concept does not only apply to professionalism; I've learned that question marks are an essential part of personal growth, as well. When I was a kid, I would have told you that by age 25, I would be married, with a child and a job as the first librarian on the moon. I had a plan that I was going to stick to. I've got a few years before I hit that quarter-life-crisis age, but it's just not looking like I will be wearing a space-suit any time soon. All summer, I've been slowly learning to live in the here and now, to be responsive to the world around me and to become comfortable with the voice in my head that is calling out question after question after question...


Photo credit: grownuptruth.com

 

I am hoping that in the next few days, some of the many question marks surrounding my next steps become exclamation marks. I am eagerly awaiting the outcome of a number of job interviews and potential living situations. If everything is to fall into place perfectly, I will be making a more permanent move to the D.C. area in the next two weeks. I am doing my best to accept these question marks, embrace the uncertainty and bravely look toward the future. At the end of the day, I am realizing how important it is to trust the process and put your faith in the certainty that if you not are exactly where you are meant to be right now, you will find your way there someday. So, dear readers, let the universe do its thing. You'll turn out alright.

 

On a personal note:

An ode to uncertainty, here's California Kids by Weezer


Read Julie's previous blog posts here

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