There’s no feeling quite like stepping off a plane. Struggling through the crowds, stretching from grogginess, stumbling forward along the royal blue carpet. The final rush out the doors into the whipping wind outside, hailing a taxicab, hoping the driver won’t take you for a spin. Emerging in a sea of unknown faces. Feeling that pioneer’s tingle, a jumble of hope and excitement and tension that’s born of a thirst for adventure, and knowing that it’s about to be satisfied.
There’s something unique about each city. It’s apparent in the surroundings, for sure — nothing identifies a metropolis like its skyline — but even more than that, it’s infused in the core of its people. The local lingo. Hospitality, standoffishness, nonchalance. The little things that make a transplant stand out in a sea of true locals.
But this lack of belonging is exactly what attracts us. I won’t say it’s not uncomfortable. There are moments when I wonder why I so often choose to leave sunshine and comfort behind, and plunge into the unknown. But I also know that it makes for the most memorable experiences, and if it’s not worth remembering, was it really worth it at all?
Call me geek, call me nerd, call me bitch, whatever — attending Grace Hopper has been truly transformative. Meeting recruiters, meeting teachers, meeting students from schools around the country and hearing just how different our lives are day-to-day. Instant connections, formed over mutual understanding and enthusiasm. Witnessing firsthand the potential and drive around me, I felt for what may be the first time like the part of a greater and quite wonderful new movement, one that is willing to accept and collaborate but also to compete and claw its way to the top. After two months of stressful stagnation, energy seeped back into my system at last.
I’m ready again — to believe in myself, and to believe in a bigger and brighter future. Let’s do this.