Kate Vendemio ‘04

October 4th, 2012

I fell in love with Washington, D.C. when I was in fifth grade. My scouting troop took a weekend trip to our nation’s capital, and I made up my mind right then and there that I would to move to Washington, D.C. when I grew up. When the time to pick colleges came around, I stepped onto the campus of John Carroll University and knew that it was the perfect fit for me. I thrived at Carroll and took comfort knowing that at some point in my life, Washington, D.C. and I would cross paths.

After graduation, however, I realized that dreaming about moving to a new city and actually doing it are two very different situations. I received two job offers – one in Cleveland, and one in Washington, D.C. I was faced with a decision – do I take a risk and move to a city where I only know a handful of people, or do I stay in the comfort of what I know? Cleveland represented security and was, from a practical standpoint, the logical choice. Yet that 11-year-old dreamer in me was still enthralled with Washington, D.C. and there was a nagging voice in my head pounding, “No Regrets!”

There is an over-used, yet poignant quote by Mark Twain that states, “20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I knew that if I didn’t take the job in D.C., if I didn’t take a risk, I would always wonder how my life would be different. To be honest, I was afraid that I would regret my one chance to change the trajectory of my life. And, more importantly, I didn’t want to be that person who lived a life of regrets in Mr. Twain’s quote. So I took the job in D.C.

Now that you are in college, you are faced with a multitude of life-altering decisions. Should you study abroad? Is your major really what you want? Should you go to graduate school right after graduation or spend a year doing volunteer work? Life is a series of risk assessments, and you are the only one who knows what is right for you. But I urge you to use Twain’s quote as your guide when making a decision. You don’t want to be disappointed by the things you didn’t do when you had the chance to do them. Taking risks is scary, but it’s also one heck of a character builder.

Seven years later, I still work in Washington, D.C. and can see the Capitol Building from my office window. I’ll tell you one thing for certain – I don’t regret my decision. I dreamed of moving to D.C. I explored the city and took advantage of everything it offered. And through, it I discovered how brave I really was.