I think I have been fascinated by politics since I was aware of the outside world.
My mother often repeats the story of my best friend and me, aged 8 and 7 respectively, comparing socialism and communism over pancakes at IHOP.
Certainly, by the 2000 election, I was aware enough of party politics to be both captivated and infuriated by the results.
However, as most (I would think) politically inclined young people, I had never thought of politics as any kind of career. I volunteered for the Democratic Party because I wanted to see people who represented my ideals in office, but never saw myself in Washington.
Somewhere during the past year that changed. I was never exactly conscious of it. There was never a moment when I said, “Now, I want to work in government.”
I just gradually became less uncomfortable with the notion, and stopped entirely laughing off my friends remarks that I spoke in stump speeches and laid out platforms in my sleep.
After that, circumstances just happened to line up.
At Basis Tucson High School, seniors spend the last third of the school year doing some sort of internship. Over the past few years, students have done everything from studying Viking sagas in Iceland to working for engineering firms in Germany.
My ambition had been to go to Africa and do humanitarian work. But that would have been expensive and difficult and the idea fell through.
At dinner one day, my father suggested I try to get an internship in Congress. The idea hadn’t occurred to me, but it seemed to make sense.
So I wrote up a résumé, although I doubted sincerely I’d get the job. I was invited to a party function, where (after some greatly appreciate cajoling), I got to talk to some of the people for whom I wanted to work, explain to them who I was and what I had done.
Then, a few weeks ago, a person in U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office in Washington, D.C., called and told me they wanted me to work there for three months.
Now here I am, with less than two months before I leave my school, my family and the city where I have grown up.
I am scared to death, scared because I have never lived away from my family, scared because I have grown up in a small school far removed from the real world. But most of all, I am scared because I really have no idea where I am going.
I can talk about the issues for hours on end but I know nothing about what it will be like working in that office on Capitol Hill. I may hate it, I may not fit in and I may end up looking foolish.
But I would be a much greater fool to not take this opportunity simply because I am scared.
I have spent my time preaching to my fellow teens the importance of being involved and doing something – and now I have been given my chance to do just that.
Besides, I am not really alone in any of this. Sooner or later, everyone has to take a few risks to achieve what they want and to put their ideals into practice.
Teen columnist Colin Killick is a senior at Basis Tucson High School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org