On Tuesday November 8th, 2016 I had my very first opportunity to vote in the US Presidential Election. Personally I was not thrilled that this was the first election I was able to vote in, but nevertheless, I did. I am VERY thankful for the men and women before me who fought to have the rights we do today, and for the men and women who continue to do so to keep it that way. I whole-heartedly appreciate and respect having the right to vote in my country, so for that I was very excited to finally be of age to use that right.
Growing up I remember actually thinking that I would never vote, because I did not think my one single vote would matter. I remember when I lived in Ecuador two years ago, one of my ecuadorian friends from school asked me if I would vote in the next election. I answered saying probably not, because I am just one person and it doesn’t make a difference. I remember them looking at me puzzled, and maybe a bit disappointed. As much as their reaction confused me and made me question my response at the time, I am honestly thankful for that conversation because it made me change my view entirely. It made me realize that sometimes in life we take things for granted, and that there are people in this world who do not have the right to vote or even the right of free speech. Another instance that gave me a different perspective was a graphic showing the amount of people who show up to vote verses the amount of people who say their vote does not matter and decide not to. It was almost 50/50. This opened my eyes again by showing me not only that my vote really does matter but also that there are many people who feel the same way.
The process of registering and voting itself was quite easy and quick. For some reason I used to think it would be something very intimidating and nerve wracking, but for me it was the complete opposite. Of course with this being my first ever voting experience, I walked into my polling place a bit confused. But I found myself feeling confident and hopeful. Maybe I was a little too confident because when I got up to sign my name, I found out I was in the wrong line… after waiting for twenty minutes. A bit embarrassed, but I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. From there the actual process was fine and breezy. Step in, select the candidates, answer a question, and cast your vote. It’s interesting to think I once spent months in school learning about this process that actually only takes a couple seconds. But hey, it’s always great to have the knowledge before getting there.
At my polling place some people were in a hurry, they were in and out without much interaction. Some took this opportunity to chat with their neighbors. Some looked down at their phones. Some were smiling, and some seemed worried. But no matter the party, background, skin color, or beliefs, we were all there to exercise our right to vote, and I think that says a lot.
As I continue to learn and form my own opinions, I find myself being more and more prideful about being a woman. I often think of the women before me not only in the United States, but also the entire world, having to fight to use their voices because there was a time when they were muted. It inspires me to use mine for those who could not in the past, to speak for those who cannot today, and to create a world for our future daughters where their voices will ring louder than ever. There has been SO much progress in the last hundred years but we still have a long way to go, and we can do it together ladies.
There is no doubt that there has been different types of negativity all across the board, no matter who or what the topic was in this election. The only way to grow is to look on the positive side and find room for improvement, and that is what I personally plan on doing. Something I am taking from this entire experience; the campaign, the election, the politics, the opinions, etc…. is the PASSION that I have seen from the American people. And especially the passion of young people. The fire and energy that has been fueling this passion can be used to essentially change the world that we live in for the better. And THAT is amazing. It inspires me to get involved with the causes that I believe in and use my voice. I encourage people to do the same. To unplug from social media, to not believe in all of the propaganda posted on the internet, and to get out there to experience and share your passion to make the world a better place for us all. No matter who or what you do or do not support, at the end of the day we are all human beings. Be kind to one another.
(Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert at politics, so you will not find me talking about them here, this is simply my own experience and thoughts about the election. However, I appreciate and respect all views no matter who you are. If you would like to chat, let’s!)