The first time I voted in a presidential election was eight years ago. I had turned 18 just a few months prior, and I remember walking into the newly built high school in the neighborhood where my dad lived thinking, “this is cool.” I handed them my ID card and voted blue down the line, mostly because that’s how I was raised and partly because frankly I didn’t know enough—about the system or about myself—to care.
A lot has changed in the past eight years, both in this nation and in myself. I’ve seen and learned enough to make my own educated decisions, taking into account how my vote will affect the nation, the community I live in, and my family. Up to this point, I’ve been silent on my views of this year’s election for three reasons: My top candidate choice dropped out of the race early on; I believe that I surround myself with people intelligent enough to do their own due diligence and make informed and educated decisions; A wise man (my Uncle Karl) once told me to never vote for the lesser of two evils (“You’re still voting for evil,” he said.)
I’ve had my mail-in ballot for two weeks now, sitting blank on my desk under a pile of other things—vehicle registration, tax papers, school loans—needing my attention. I had planned to do my research on the candidates and initiatives in my county and my state, and let the rest of the country decide who should lead us for the next four years. But then all these inspirational “I voted!” posts kept popping up, and they got me thinking. I come from a long line of strong women. One in particular, my dad’s mother—my “Granny”—was born in 1924, four years to the date after women were granted the right to vote.
She raised four unruly children on her own, all while holding down a full-time job. And not just any job—no, Granny Flo was a sorority house mother at the University of Utah and a fraternity house mother at Oregon State University. She also worked for GE, on the team for the Saturn rocket fuel system in the Apollo moon landings. Basically, she had brains and she had grit. The latter of which truly shined during her long battle with emphysema. My brother and I were the youngest of her grandchildren, and she said she wanted to live to see us become teenagers. 13 years ago, my Granny passed away—three months after I celebrated my 13th birthday by her side. I don’t think about her often, but today I thought about her a lot. She was tough and unapologetic and worked hard and never complained, and held her children and grandchildren to the same high standards of which she held herself. Whenever we complained, she would bluntly ask, “well, what are you going to do about it?” … a true testament to the fact that we, and consequently our lives, are products of our choices and our actions.
My first vote was cast as a headstrong 18-year-old, my second as an optimistic 22-year-old finding her way, and my third, today, as a 26-year-old grounded in her path and her home. Who I've become is a smattering of ‘blue’ and ‘red’. But the world isn’t blue and red or black and white—it’s a melting pot and I wholeheartedly believe that in order to move forward, we need representatives from all sides. I can only hope that the ones we elect—today and in the future—will move forward, together.
So today, I did my research on the various candidates and initiatives, made my choices, and then laced up my running shoes and jogged the one-and-a-half miles to the ballot drop box. The sun is out—rare for a November day in Washington—and I’m lucky enough to live in an area where I feel safe enough, as a woman, to run the sidewalks in my neighborhood. I realize that’s a privilege not granted to everyone in this nation, and certainly not this world. The worst thing that happened on my jog (aside from the pounding in my chest and lungs) was all of the retirees glancing at me like a crazy person for running with my ballot, and then again as I snapped a selfie with the ballot box. There’s a great deal of fear running through people’s hearts and minds, but today I chose love and possibility. Hillary’s not perfect. Neither am I, and neither are you. But she does represent a lot of what is good in this world: courage, possibility, conviction, hope, and also brains and grit. Which is why, for myself, for my Granny, and for all of the strong women who have come before me and will come after me, #imwithher. Glass, meet shattered.