Five and a half years ago, the day after Christmas my younger brother and I walked the grounds of the United States capitol building. It was a cold night but the combination of the Christmas lights and the happy anxiety of starting a new job in a new city in an area that was far away from everything we had ever known, kept us both warm enough.
I was happy enough with having the chance to explore a world outside of my small hometown. My brother was excited about the fact that I had the chance to work in politics. Politics- the subject that woke him up in the morning on his television and the thing that he went to bed thinking about at night. The thing that he would discuss (argue?) about passionately, intelligently, insightful- discussions when, afterward people of the opposing party would comment, "I appreciate the fact that he knows the "why" behind his position instead of blinding trusting those who he has seen in the media." Politics in general and Washington D.C. specifically was the place the my brother who was apprentice for an electrician at the time, never imagined he would be allowed to join.
Who was he but a kid who graduated from a high class of less than a hundred from a high school who considered the first day of deer season a holiday?
How would a guy who had tried college but had never found a good fit be allowed in those circles?
Passion, desire, drive aside- all these were irrelevant when faced reality and if there is one thing my family excels in, it is in being extremely practical. My brother wouldn't even allow himself the pleasure of dreaming of eventually taking this same walk and feeling that same new job high. Practically said this was never going to happen so he encouraged me and kept walking in the cold.
Fast forward to yesterday when I received a text message reading, "GOT IT." He has been offered an internship in D.C. and his excitement is tangible despite the fact that we are 300 miles away from one another. This excitement, in my mind, is because he has beaten the almost invisible nemesis of practicality.
Apparently, practicality didn't get the memo that people go back to school. Practicality doesn't understand that when you go all in with your passion and you follow your dreams, that you can do what you had literally never allowed yourself to dream about. Practicality didn't take into account that my brother was much stronger, smarter, and driven than he'd ever given himself credit.
I realize that this whole post may seem as if it steeped in cliche and that it teeters on being hokey.
"Follow your dreams!"
"Don't allow your circumstances to get in the way of what you want to do!"
"Bet on yourself!"
Sayings like this may give us a minor boost when we scroll by them on whatever social media channel we prefer but this- this is real.
And yes, I've scrubbed up this story so that all that you see is the pretty. I didn't mention the hard time he had when he realized that college wasn't working out the first time and didn't mentioned how much harder it was for him to transition back into being a full-time student. I don't mention how uncomfortable it is to be surrounded by people who, though only six years younger, are in a totally different place in their lives despite the fact that they are physically only one desk over. I don't even claim to know all of the challenges he's had to face to get to this place.
Being an intern is only the first step. In the grand scheme it's a small step. I know that. You know that. He certainly knows that. We get it.
But more than anything, this small step is a win over the barriers that are daunting and make our dreams seem impossible. More than anything I am a sister who is exceedingly proud and inspired by her younger brother.