This is an article I am afraid to write. Everyone's opinions are so strong that they are willing to shut people out from their lives permanently in order to preserve them. This is especially true for political opinions.

I am by no means suggesting that you should not stick up for what you believe in. Political opinions are important, and you should stick by what you believe and shout it from the rooftops if you so desire. It is important to have strong beliefs, and it is important to stay politically informed.

But please stop asking me if I am a Democrat or a Republican.

Stop asking me if I'm liberal or conservative. Stop asking me who I voted for. Stop making me label myself so you can decide if we're "on the same team." I will not give myself a label to make it more convenient for you to decide if you like me or if you hate me.

If I were to tell a Republican that I was a Democrat they would immediately come to the conclusion that I am ignorant, emotional, weak, non-religious, and I hate all white men. If I were to tell a Democrat that I was a Republican they would assume I am evil, self-centered, racist, misogynistic, and I support our President. These are obviously stereotypes but not exaggerations.

Instead of asking for my label, I suggest you ask me my opinion on an issue that you find to be important. I would love to share my opinions on why I hold a certain belief as well as explain to you how I came to form that opinion. Rather than exchanging labels, let's have a conversation. Let's find common ground on some beliefs and agree to disagree on others.

The political party that I tend to vote for on a paper ballot should not tell you what kind of person I am; the beliefs, values, and morals I have are a much more appropriate indicator.

I suggest that you also stop introducing yourself using labels. You are not a title or a category. You are a human being with opinions that cannot fit under a single descriptor. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard, but that cannot happen when we are immediately shut down at the reveal of a label.

The last few years have been especially politically charged, and rightfully so, but we have become so full of hate and at war with anyone not under the safe umbrella of our own labels. Hopefully this year we can get rid of the "if you're not with us you're against us" attitude and exchange it for a healthy discourse that allows us to respectfully share our values and beliefs with others who may not always agree.

For the good of humanity, please stop reducing people to labels.