My political education growing up has been altogether negligible. Despite my lack of significant political education, I have been able to become a more informed individual by using My Voting Power as a way to guide my civic engagement. I’m learning from the gaps in my past education and using My Voting Power’s community and resources as a roadmap forward.
I was raised by parents of the same political ideology whose ideas and values I adopted as my own without question. Sure, I took a government class in high school, learning about long-standing issues of opinion between parties, dabbling in some current events, and registering to vote (which I am certainly grateful for, no way I would have known how to do that on my own). I distinctly remember learning the history of topics from gun violence to abortion. We were encouraged to forge our own opinions, but usually picked sides based on the opinions of parties we had been conditioned to assimilate into based solely on the merit of our parents and peers, or conversely personal rebellion astray.
Interestingly, this semester we were ramping up to a historic presidential election. Historic not only in the context of our country but also our personal histories as well. It was the first election in which a majority of my class of 2016 peers and I would be eligible to make decisions. We spent the first five minutes of class catching up on the “too long didn’t read” version of progression in the race. Anything more required us to look into on our own time, a simple task of high school seniors balancing standardized testing, college applications, and the slew of complicated classes and extracurriculars that were likewise expected of us at this point. I would be lying if I said I tried my best; my priorities were elsewhere as I tried to keep my mental health afloat along with the other responsibilities I and many of my peers were balancing. That was five years ago. After I cast my ballot in 2016, my political education seemed to drastically halt.
Throughout college, my peers approached topics of politics with fiery passion and unrelatable certainty. I was too ashamed to admit my own ignorance and had no idea of how to rectify it in secrecy. The straw on the camel’s back fell through during a tumultuous 2020. I was blindsided by the events broadcast across my social media. Only upon further investigation, I realized these events had been a long time coming. My ignorance was a reflection of my privilege that although important to recognize had allowed me to be altogether unaffected by a vast majority of political and civil unrest. I refused to remain complacent as a result of my own fear and privileged cushion. I listened in on conversations between friends, scrolled through social media until I felt sickly overwhelmed, joined protests, signed petitions, and donated. I did all that was necessary to clear my conscience (performing political participation to avoid the beratement of my peers) and do everything I was supposed to be doing. It was involvement for sure, but it was the product of fear. It was just the beginning. Through my investigation into the organizations I cared about, the media I was consuming, and even the people I was surrounded by, my notions of authenticity, intelligence, mindfulness, and my entire self-concept was being challenged. It was immensely uncomfortable but altogether necessary. I realized how much I did not know and how much more I could do if only I could confront my imposter syndrome. This cycle, the imposter syndrome, education, and self-concept check became a norm of my understanding of allyship and advocacy. These forms of activism were signifiers of personal progress and showed room for improvement as long as I held steadfast in being acutely aware and pushing my impulses in alignment with my morals. It is a learning process, one that transcends any classroom far more than I could have ever imagined.
I am trying to listen and to understand my motives and the motives of others in every political action. I am learning and furthermore reminding myself that this process is lifelong and vast. That notion once intimidated me. Now at the least, I understand that the only way to be wrong in this arena is to reject it. By simply starting, I am taking a step in the right direction. My Voting Power provides a means to doing so! I am hopeful that I can influence change through my involvement in My Voting Power and make meaningful connections in my community.
Let’s see what happens next.
My Voting Power Community Member