I suppose I was right about the change, if not the candidate. Before 2016, I didn’t consider myself a very political person. I still believed that I had a responsibility to vote, but I didn’t really understand how much energy and activism it took to really make a difference.
This year, I learned a lot about political participation. These last few months have been filled with anxiety for me — about the election, the pandemic, the general uncertainty of the future. But as I stayed up late reading news article after news article about the election or spent the past week refreshing the election results page every 15 minutes, I realized that I had a responsibility to turn the anxiety I had into action.
Despite being an anxious person, especially when it comes to talking to strangers over the phone, I ended up phone banking in Texas over fall break. Calling people was extremely scary for me, but by the end of the calls, I was shaking with a mix of adrenaline and a newfound appreciation for how democracy relies on relentless optimism. It was incredible to see just how many people believed in their power to shape the future.
Since 2016, I’ve realized that elections are really just a reflection of a moment in time. The results of an election matter, but real political work that leads to change takes time and effort. Voting matters. Grassroots advocacy matters. Just talking to your friends and family about what you believe in matters.
This year, I got my ballot by mail. Like last time, I spent a long time reading over all the information and the different candidates. I took a selfie with my ballot — unfortunately, I didn’t get a sticker in the mail. And I still felt like I was on the cusp of something great. I still don’t consider myself a very political person. But in the end, what does that mean? I’ve learned since then that existence is political, so by that definition, I have become very political.