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The Emotional Stages of Voting (By Mail) For the First Time

In the weeks before an election I remember listening to my parents discussing the propositions and the candidates they wanted to vote for. When election day finally arrived, I would accompany them to the polls along with my younger sisters.  My sisters and I would cram into the booth with one of them and watch with fascination as they filled in the little bubbles on their ballot. Before leaving, we would each receive a coveted “I Voted” sticker that I would wear proudly to school the next day.  Back then, voting seemed like a sign adulthood. It meant that one is capable of shouldering the obligation and responsibility of contributing to the future of one’s country. Earlier this week, with this memory in mind, I put on my adult pants (but not really becuase voting by mail means PJs are acceptable voting attire) and debated the propositions and the candidates, and filled in the bubbles for my first presidential election. 

At the start, the prospect of voting was mostly exciting. I couldn’t help smiling on the walk to my dorm from the mailroom, my freshly arrived ballot in hand. I was about to vote for the president of the United States of America! 

Then the panic began to set in when I realized how many other things were on the ballot that I would need to research (apparently California loves propositions).  

Next came determination as I reassured myself that I was smart an capable and this was no big deal. 

But sometimes midterm sleep deprivation was not conducive to researching all the judges, propositions, etcetera on my ballot.  

Not being able to understand some of what was on my ballot was frustrating…  

…But thankfully the internet exists for times like these.  

Calling home and finding out my dad was pleased but also surprised at how seriously I was taking voting was mildy offensive.  

When I was ready to fill out the ballot, I couldn’t help feel a sense of anxiety. Why did I have to use pen?! What if I made a mistake?!! What if I changed my mind?!!!

The sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally dropped my ballot in the mail was overwhelming.  I couldn’t believe I did it! 

But then panic sent in again when I thought that maybe it wouldn’t get back home on time.  

Relief washed over me when I realized that it just had to be postmarked by election day.  

Now, while everybody else is still in election freak out mode, I can finally say, peace out 2016 election. You won’t be missed. 

I am a double major in Anthropology and International/Global Studies with a minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation at Brandeis University. As a native Southern Californian, I have a born passion for avocados and an innate dread of cold weather. In my free time I love cooking (with avocados of course), drawing and writing. 
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