Please note that the title of this post is to be sung to the tune of the High School Musical ditty of the same name.
It's fitting, because when I began my job here in D.C., just three days after my college graduation, I started working with five other recent grads who became my best friends & my District family. High School Musical was our inside joke of choice, & its songs became our soundtrack. "We're All in This Together" was our anthem, sung during late nights & weekends spent burning the proverbial midnight oil. The mix CD I made for them at the end of our one-year fellowship concluded with the song "What I've Been Lookin' For" with the lyrics, "I've never had someone as good for me as you. So lonely before, I finally found what I've been looking for." Cheesy? Sure, but sometimes the best friendships are a little cheesy.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to stay at the office beyond our one year there. When my friends left, my job continued, & I carried on without much of the support system that had propped me up throughout year one. Convinced I could never find friendships to match the ones I'd just made, I was shocked to form ones just as strong with a new batch of coworkers - friends I now feel just as close to & love just as much, in different but equally meaningful ways. Together, these groups of coworkers-cum-friends comprise the smartest, most hard-working, most driven people I've ever met. They inspire me & challenge me & believe in me & all kinds of other good things.
Of course, it been about much more than the friends. I've spent three years here, longer than most people give to their first job right out of college. I've discovered skills I never knew I had, honed abilities I never expected to possess. I've had the opportunity to do things I never dreamed I'd do - lobbying lawmakers, writing op-eds, attending rallies, teaching high schoolers, becoming a social media "expert," working with publications like Newsweek and the Washington Post. I've traveled to New Orleans, Toronto, San Diego, New York City; I've met & learned from some of the most passionate activists DC has to offer; I've spoken on panels & attended conferences & just generally done a lot of really freaking cool stuff. And perhaps most importantly, I've been blessed with bosses who not only manage & direct but who also teach, listen, & care - bosses who I consider mentors & friends, too.
It's so easy to say "___ changed my life," & it's not such a powerful statement, when you think about it. Lots of things are life-changing. The simple truth is that life changes - every day, all the damn time, sometimes good & sometimes not, for better & for worse & for different. We get older, we move on, we learn new things, we meet new people. But this job changed my life in a million ways, almost entirely for the better, & though this is certainly not the route I planned on taking through life, I'm infinitely grateful to have stumbled upon it.
You know where this is going, right? Most of you have probably already heard the announcement by now: I have a new job! On May 28, I'll officially call it quits at my current office, & on June 1, I'll begin a position at a nearby communications firm. I'm wildly excited about this new job, even if I haven't necessarily processed that excitement yet as I try to manage the shock of leaving the office I've called both work & home for the past three years. But I'm absolutely looking forward to this next step in my life, to the challenges & opportunities that come with trying something scary & new.
I struggled with whether to accept this position, simply because I'm notoriously afraid - nay, terrified - of change. But then I remembered February 24, 2009, the night I saw Jimmy Eat World play the 9:30 Club. And I remembered this secret, personal moment that I've held onto since that night, a moment when I closed my eyes & started to cry, when I let the lyrics take me in: "Dancing in plastic shake-up snow, do you believe in what you want?" They don't mean that much. Or do they? That night, I promised myself that I wouldn't be afraid to move forward. That I wouldn't be afraid to live in a way that would better myself & my future, even if it seemed overwhelming. That if I did find myself afraid, I wouldn't let that fear become so pervasive that it kept me from action.
So this is action. This is me moving forward. This is what comes next, & I'm sure as hell scared, but not so scared that I can't do it.
This is the start of something new. I believe in what I want. And so it's time.