I had no idea what an Internship Experience™ would look like, and all I have learned so far is that I never will. My experiences this summer are unique, ephemeral, and deeply impactful, colored as much by me who is experiencing them as by what they really are. Trying to distill it to discover what is internship and what is personal was holding me back; now, I embrace not expecting what any experience like an internship will ever be.
In the first days, maybe even weeks of my time at the virtual reality start up Gwydion, I was overwhelmed by a breed of performance anxiety. We’re a small company, with under ten people in our rather spartan office. When I received the job, I had seen this as an opportunity to let my voice be heard and to make an even greater impact! But being in the space, I felt more like I was adrift, the few steps from my desk to my coworker’s like an ocean that was treacherous to cross. (It occurs to me that this sounds rather melodramatic. But anxiety is like that.) I did not know how to be comfortable yet, to simply reach out for help and reveal myself as the student I still was. All the more frustrating, as I reminded myself that everyone I work with is still or was very recently a student – somehow, the nagging idea that this was an internship, the first step to a Real Life Job™, where one was to act as a Real Life Person™, kept me frozen.
But it was May, it was warm outside, and I began to thaw.
As I worked more with the other interns around me, and got to know them and work with them and make fun of their bugs and have them make fun of my bugs and we all loved and hated programming, I became more comfortable with the idea of simply being a person and doing a thing, here, today. The idea of the Internship™, loud and rumbling underfoot, slowly subsided. The worries of being that Real? Person? who was a frozen image of competence faded away as inexplicably as they came. I tried my hardest to relax – to remind myself that everyone is simply a person who is living, to remember that I am enough as I am today – to assuage my worries and I believe that helped, but also – anxiety is like that. (Like a stray neighborhood cat it will come and go, and I have become accustomed to being ready.)
It’s July now, and I no longer worry about or strain to see an invisible Experience™ that will arrive, arms heavy with fruit. I simply look forward, allow tomorrow to come, reminding myself everyday that I will be ready.