Even as a very young child, whether it was learning manners or potty training, I'm told I was highly sticker motivated. When I did something correctly, my parents let me pick out a sticker and put it on a progress chart. As it turns out, things haven't changed all that much. I'm not going to lie, I still feel a sense of accomplishment when I get my "I VOTED" sticker. This year, my stickers means more to me, and not because I believe great change is coming. I'm honestly thankful to have this election behind me.
I hope it's not just that I'm getting older and more easily-annoyed by things, but this year's election process has been one of the most unbearable ever endured. Unqualified candidates aside, I've witnessed more people get their political information from memes, social media, and group texts than I'm comfortable with. As parties and friendships were divided, important issues were repeatedly diminished in favor of scandals.
Having social media leading up to the election felt like being home for the holidays with your crazy extended family for five months straight. Whether it was the unnecessary tension, the awkward conversations, random arguments, the surprising racist, people screaming, or my forced cordiality as a response, all the while questioning how these people got in my life, it just wasn't worth it - I didn't even get presents!! This year, my sticker brings a happy close to the 2016 election and a joyful farewell to the bandwagon political experts.
As for my voting experience, I voted early this year, and something unexpected happen. While I was there, a girl was teary-eyed and overwhelmed when she couldn't have an adult conversation around what happened after her mom sent her registration in for her. "I just don't know - it's my first time voting!" exclaimed the ever-melting mess to the voting official, after a bunch of quickly shot down excuses. I held back my eye-roll SO hard. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own political beliefs, and I respect any civil and educated conversation around an issue. My political beliefs aren't shaped by anyone around me, but by my own relationship with facts, and it's very difficult to take completely uneducated voters that when faced with any sort of controversy crumble into a sobbing mess seriously. I'm sure she was at the polls that day, hoping to give women a step forward, but I couldn't help but notice she was pretty much giving them a step back. As her super lucky boyfriend rushed to her side, and I remembered why I'm so thankful I don't work in retail anymore, I slipped out the door and slapped my sticker on with pride.
What am I wearing? Democracy.. Where did I get it? .. AMERICA, BABY!
Regardless of the outcome, it's up to us to write our personal path to success. Hoping to rely on anyone else to do so for us will never be the best answer. I hope you had a better voting experience than I did, and as we settle in for a historic change in our country, I can only say ... GOOD LUCK, AMERICA.