How Moving Out of Washington, D.C. Allowed Me to Reconnect with the Average American
Washington, D.C. is a city of people who come from all over the country who dream of making a difference in the lives of all Americans. It makes sense—when you are in D.C., you are surrounded by history and people who make decisions for our country.
After graduating from college, I packed my bags and moved to D.C. and started to achieve that dream. However, I would later realize upon leaving “the swamp” that I was out of touch with the average American.
It felt as if I was in a different world. Politicos flock to D.C. just as performers flock to Hollywood or Broadway. Everyone was talking about politics and everything related to it, and people were trying to build their careers.
Just like many people there, I worked with some of the most influential people in the country and attended countless political events. I even had the opportunity to make an impact on state policy issues from a national level, and I was involved with several groups advocating for free-market and conservative policies. Almost all my friends worked in politics, which included church friends and roommates.
My experience living and working there was invigorating, but as time went on, I began to realize that living in D.C. was like being in a bubble—a world that was out of touch with the average American. Even with political differences, everyone thought alike, spoke alike and did the same activities. It was too easy to get disconnected from reality and be lost in an echo chamber.
Moreover, D.C. is also full of people who pretend to be your friend just to meet someone or advance their career, and once they have no use for you, they ignore or back-stab you.
Living in D.C. was starting to wear on me, but I found it comfortable. I had a strong group of friends, it was easy to talk about politics and believe I was saving the country, and I felt as if I fit in with the crowd.
Early last year, I decided to take a break from D.C. and spend some time with my family and future in-laws before I got married. When my husband and I got married, we immediately moved out west to Nevada. It was a shock for me—I had to start from scratch, and it took me awhile to make friends.
I may have grown up next door in Utah, and I always said I would always fight for the state and its values, but I eventually lost touch with what people cared about there.
I found myself in the real world again in Nevada. People were not talking about politics all the time—they were talking about their families, their communities, and their schools. It was a breath of fresh air, and I realized that I had lost touch with what the average American really cared about.
When I started at Nevada Policy, I had to find a different focus when it came to state policy issues than when I worked with national groups that worked on state issues. I thought I knew what the average American cared about.
I still believe in most issues being solved at the state level and with free-market solutions, but I had to start looking at issues in a different way. When I had my child last year, I realized that I started thinking more about my family and my community than national politics.
The constant focus on politics in D.C. made me feel disconnected from the average American and their everyday concerns. Listening and connecting with people has allowed me to get back in touch with them, and it has been a humbling and enlightening experience.