How The Government Shutdown Impacted Me

How The Government Shutdown Impacted Me

Last Friday, the U.S. government shutdown for three days. While most people watched the news and tried to understand what that meant for social security, federal employees, the military and the postal service, I braced myself for the possibility that I would not start my internship the upcoming Monday. A few hours later, an email confirmed it all. My emotions were mixed, but I chose to see the blessing in this day off. I’d flown home for personal reasons and now had an extra day to recover from the flight back to D.C.

I woke up Monday morning to the clicks of light switches as my roommate slowly walked down the hall and left for work. I decided not to stay at home all day and quickly got dressed to explore my neighborhood and go grocery shopping. I kept watching my phone for shutdown updates and checking my email in hopes of some news from my internship… Nothing. After returning home from my errands, I resolved to wait until the local news broadcast later to hear updates because scrolling through my phone for nonexistent government shutdown updates wasn’t going to accelerate my predicament. Later that evening, good news that the shutdown was over dominated the broadcast, and I checked my phone for updates on when I could report to training for my internship. No updates. However, most of the people interviewed that were affected by the shutdown lamented that in three weeks time this could happen again. I empathized with the low optimism because I still didn’t know what that meant for me and when I could start my internship.

Tuesday morning greeted me with a rush of excitement and some disappointment. I’d heard from my internship but unfortunately had to wait another two weeks before starting. Yes, the free time means I can really explore D.C., get to know my surroundings, and get started on some of the assignments with no distractions, but I was also eager to start interning and get to know my team. A small voice in my head kept saying “This happened for a reason. You will be fine.” as I made some phone calls and sent emails.

I was as productive as possible for 30 minutes, and then the pause came. Everyone’s experienced some form of “the pause” when everything temporarily stops, and one has some reflecting to do, decisions to make, and attitudes to pivot. Staring at my computer, the pause made me ask aloud, “Now what?” The pause made me think about what I wanted to do with my day and the weeks to come. The pause also made me think about my personal issues and how I’d just been given more recovery time because of this delay. The pause reset my perspective, and I was determined to make the most of my downtime.

Embrace the pauses in life, because they do happen for a reason. Pauses don’t always happen at ideal times, and can literally make one feel like his or her life has been thrown off track – but they are necessary. My pause is helping me in ways I probably won’t recognize until later on, so I have to embrace it, celebrate it, and not try to rush through this temporary stop.


Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a second-year Public Diplomacy graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

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