Nobody likes discussing politics during holiday dinners, but sometimes it’s just inevitable—at least in my family, it is. Whenever the subject came up, I always heard “you’re being so quiet” from my mormor (grandma in Swedish). I was quiet because I would’ve sparked WWIII by offering a different opinion.
I have a very large family and by some luck, they all believe the same things except for me. Everyone loudly expresses their opinions, making them known to everyone. It creates an awkward environment sometimes, which makes me think that I shouldn’t express my views because they’re different from what I’m used to growing up around.
So, when I finally turned 18 and registered to vote for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I should trust my family’s opinions or form my own, because who doesn’t trust their own family?
I always used to suppress my opinions around my family during holidays, birthday dinners, and just daily life: I was terrified of the repercussions. Voting is new to me and so far it’s been a little rocky. I hear my family’s opinions and think I need to go along with what they tell me because they’re my family.
I cannot emphasize enough, however, the importance of doing research on your own and forming your own opinions. Before I realized this, I often looked for advice elsewhere: from teachers, friends, etc. One of my high school teachers was very obvious with her views, but she always told us that she didn’t care who we were voting for—just that we showed up. That’s what I’m trying to encourage you to do today: go vote for what YOU want, not what you’re told to do.
I understand many of you may possibly be in the same predicament as me. It’s frightening, and I understand being anxious to go against what your entire family beliefs, but that never stopped me from voting for what I truly believe in.
Soon after leaving for college, I quickly realized that by leaving my comfort bubble everyone sees things in a different way, and my opinion would be respected by most. I’m still working on learning how to effectively use my voice, but at least I’m learning.
What most people often overlook is their own power. People have a voice and it’s essential that we use it, because how else would we expect change if it weren’t for us? You have your own unique voice, it’s not your family or friends, it’s yours, and you need to use it if any of you want to impose change; so please, go vote.