When I traveled to Wilmington, NC a month ago during Thanksgiving to visit my family, little did I know that I would make a snap decision that would change the course of my life. Like millions of other people who have lost their job this year due to COVID, I’ve faced personal doubt, fear, loathing, and at times crippling anxiety and depression.
Of course this was not the first time that I faced these feelings. I moved to Washington, DC two years ago after losing my job in North Carolina due to budget cuts. I realized that I didn’t have any reason to stay where I was at. I took the first job I could get in the DC area. I knew that by just being in the city would allow me to network and doors of opportunity would fly open. My ambition and ego grew tenfold just at the thought of it. However it didn’t pan out exactly how I thought it would.
Like millions of other people who have lost their job this year due to COVID, I’ve faced personal doubt, fear, loathing, and at times crippling anxiety and depression.
There is an age-old hierarchy in DC for those that desire a life in politics on Capitol Hill. It starts at intern, low-level staffer, senior staffer, chief of staff, and then you can either become a senior administration official or a K Street lobbyist. Some people hop around between senior Hill staff to administration staff, depending on who gets voted in or out. It’s a never ending rat-race of people trying to see who gets to shovel the most sh*t in Washington.
I came to DC wanting that same life. Power and influence have always been seductive to me. And like thousands of other people, I wanted my seat at the table. Unfortunately, I lacked the two forms of currency in DC- money and connections. When I was finishing up college I didn’t have the money or means to intern on the Hill. I thought that now I had my chance to earn a place on top of the heap. I was a bit delusional.
Two years of trying to find my place, I learned that Washington is full of false promises and false prophets. Connections are a currency in DC and depending on who is in the White House and Congress, those connections can be worth a lot of money. It’s a tricky game, everyone is looking to make a few “friends” and people are always eager meet for a proverbial coffee. Yet at the same time people associate with the circles they work in and if you want to join their circle, you better have something valuable to bring to the table. People talk a big game. They talk about change, influence, power, and destiny.
They think that they have been sent to change the world (one piece of pork at a time). They are high on a drug that flows from the corner offices of K Street to the basement cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building, and flows up to Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s an amazing high that keeps you addicted for as long as you can keep it. For those people like me who can’t get a seat at the table, you’re easily spit out.
Two years of trying to find my place, I learned that Washington is full of false promises and false prophets.
I do want to give a major caveat. DC is an extraordinary place. It’s full of the best and brightest minds in the country who are trying to make the world a better place. The city is rich in history and culture. I’ve developed some amazing friendships and professional acquaintances that I hope will last a lifetime. I plan on making the DC metro area my second home. Unfortunately, politics has an ugly side and tends to turn people into egomaniacs. If I stayed and became a part of the rat race I have no doubt that I would turn into one myself.
When I hit the road to Wilmington in November, I was on the fence if I would stay in DC or move back to NC. I needed time to think and also build my business. Over the past few months I have been humbled. I stopped looking at changing the world the way Hill people think and I looked inward- changing the circumstances around me and making my little corner of the world a better place. Spending time in Wilmington talking to people, seeing businesses open, new houses being built, and once run-downed areas now vibrant commerce centers. I see hope and inspiration. I see an opportunity to help make a difference in the local community and help people bring their ideas into a thriving marketplace. I was seeing my hometown for the first time again. I was seeing it with a new lens.
I’m back y’all. My little adventure has brought me back to my roots, at least for now. I’m excited to be back in NC with humility and a fresh perspective. I’ve adjusted my sights from Capitol Hill to main street and I could not be more excited.
I’ve adjusted my sights from Capitol Hill to main street and I could not be more excited.
On this Christmas Eve I write with humility and excitement. 2021 is going to bring about rapid change and growth, and I look forward to helping people in Wilmington build and grow their business. Bridges Consulting, LLC is officially open for business in North Carolina.
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