Eight Years…and Still Fighting…

Today marks my eight year anniversary for moving to my beloved Washington, DC with just my old 10 pound laptop computer, a couple of pant suits, a few phone interviews, and some support from the rents (always be grateful for their help getting me on my feet).

Praise be to God,  it hasn’t been easy,  but since then, I have been “living the dream”…by “living,” “working,” and “studying” in our nation’s capital…

Eight years. It appears I’ve been out here the entire term of President! I was actually here when Obama was elected, during a semester program, but moved from my hometown in Wisconsin a year later, without any prospects, and 5 months after completing my Masters. I just took the leap because ultimately, I knew DC was going to become my second home (since I was 16), and because I needed to be more proactive with my life.

And ever since then it has just been battle after battle after battle…trying to make something of myself.

I wish I could have celebrated this day by being outdoors, and just taking in the city.  But I did actually wake up in the morning,  go for a jog a little later, and have a relatively productive day overall.

I love to jog because it teaches me a lot of things. Things I could apply to other aspects of my life.  I know I have to keep my pace, because if I speed up, I get tired and exhausted and I lose my momentum and get burned out. I feel that same logic applies to our hard work towards achieving something in our lives , including our career paths and our quest to make the contributions we are destined to make. We have to keep a certain pace, have patience, and be okay with the need to take time to build up to the shape we want to be, to the person we imagine and strive for…the best versions of ourselves.

…Today I also celebrated the eight years with making some significant progress on my first NSF grant proposal (pending final proofread tomorrow before submission).  It is for research that has sort of been a culmination of everything that I have been working towards the past eight years and arguably more… Even though it was a very difficult grant to write, and will be super competitive to win. But I do think there is some chance, simply by submission. It is better than not trying at all.  Whether or not they recognize the “intellectual merit” and  “broader impacts” of this research, I will continue to keep the pace and the momentum going.

We never know if anything can happen unless we try.

That’s what I did with my DC. I gave it a chance and it took a chance on me.

Thank you, Washington DC, for giving a little Brown girl from small town Oshkosh, WI a chance, an opportunity to pursue her dreams….

All in all, it has been a challenging roller coaster ride… we have had a love-hate relationship, you and I,  but needless to say, at the same time, it has been such a humbling experience …and as always, deep inside, I have had nothing but love for you…

For a while, I had this painting in my mind even before I defended my dissertation proposal this summer. So I decided to also celebrate this day by painting this to symbolize my struggle, adding it to my purple skies gallery…. I call it “Survival: Shooting for the Moon”… I screwed up a little bit with the foliage. It’s also supposed to show me in my purple hoodie, going for my daily jog on the road near my neighborhood, one hand showing the peace sign and the other with a fist towards the moon… It is a nice attempt, let’s just say I will have to keep practicing…

But what’s special about that vision of a painting, is my reliance on those jogs, and taking in my surroundings, the sky, the moon, the trees, the road, everything… to help me get through tough times, especially when completing critical stages of my doctorate: particularly the fields and dissertation proposal writing phase.

I will have to continue to rely on those jogs for the remainder of the  challenging work ahead..

Sometimes we are so focused on what we haven’t accomplished in our lives that we forget to sit back and think about all that we HAVE accomplished.

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The picture above depicts me leaving my first job at the DC Government, 911 call center, where I worked as a temp for 4 months before landing my first gig relavant to my specializations at the Aspen Stategy Group, in Dupont Circle. There is so much I wish to warn my 25 year old self about life in DC, so much I wish I knew. But the best way to learn is to experience it yourself.

As I mentioned, I had a taste of DC in previous short term experiences and semesters, but I moved here with nothing set, just a lot of ambition which led to think tank hopping, connecting with people, interviewing and eventually landing some things. I forget to reflect on what I went through, the struggle, the people who helped me rather than the people who didn’t. I forget how much gratitude I should have for the blessings in my life, and how much I should be proud of as to how far I have come and what I have actually accomplished, even though I am not there just yet.

We sometimes focus so much on what we haven’t done, because of our ambitions and perfectionism, and forget to take a look back and just breathe and appreciate ourselves for what we have done so far, and the investment and sacrifice we have made for the bigger goals for the greater good.

Most importantly, I must not forget, as I noted in the beginning of this post, that I have been “living the dream,” and no matter where this dream goes, the fact that I’m living it, and making some progress, should be good enough for me. Thinking about how much I have accomplished, despite my mental and physical health conditions and concerns, and against all odds, it is enough to keep continuing the fight, to keep dreaming and keep fighting like a warrior queen, because there is so much of our stories that have not been written and shared, and there is so much untapped potential that we have to contribute to the world.

Peace, Warmth, and Blessings,

Elsa

Warrior KQueen

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