In today’s political climate, the mere mention of voting can stir feelings of dread and confusion among the strongest of us. It can be difficult to weave through the rumors and mud-slinging that inevitably litters every politician’s campaign whilst juggling your responsibilities and personal dramas. Navigating the political tides is exhausting, from twitter to CNN to Fox News and numerous other news sources. It is especially exhausting with all of their biases. For this reason, it is imperative to surround yourself with multiple news sources and reliable opinions to further inform your vote. Consider speaking to professors and consulting multiple news outlets in which your moral views align.
Recognizing the privilege that comes with voting and doing something meaningful with it is one of the most important things you can do, not only for yourself but also for your peers. The Pew Research Center estimates that young voters make up a whopping 31% of the electorate! (PEW) The influence you can have on your future is indisputable. While it may seem taxing, using your voice should be a priority- even set up against the criticism that your vote “doesn’t matter”. It is better to be an informed citizen who is doing their best to make the right decision than one that decides not to engage in favor of letting others decide for them. You wouldn’t let that kid who sits next to you in your Biology decide your major, so why let them decide your stance on healthcare or education?
It may feel as though your one vote will have minimal impact on the entire political system but consider the involvement of your friends, too. Setting up a date to the polls may seem cheesy on the surface but taking your rights into your own hands is empowering. Try and put in perspective the impact a group of young people can have on what can sometimes feel like a “man’s game”. Historically, women and people of color have been systematically discouraged from voting through the use of scare tactics and manipulation by those who prefer to keep the pendulum swinging in their favor. Make a date of it, get coffee or ice cream with your squad beforehand to talk about the candidates you want to represent you and the vision you have for yourself in a country you helped shape. While you’re out making history take the opportunity to Instagram some pictures at your voting precinct. Nothing does numbers like a group of beautiful, educated women doing their civic duty. Don’t let anyone bully you into thinking voting is a waste of time, it’s more admirable to put your best foot forward and try to make your voice heard than it is to sit back and pout about a new policy put in place that you could have had an impact on, if you had voted. If you care about the state of affairs where you live, and you should, it is always worth trying.
Put up a fight, not just for the future of you and your friends, but for the influential activists that came before you. To quote Beyoncé, a powerful song-writer that’s been paving roads since she started in her industry, “Life is your birthright, they hid that in the fine print. Take the pen and rewrite it.” Go out and write the future you see yourself in, no one else will do it for you. Feel emboldened in knowing you’re not alone in this fight.