In most states, turning 18-years-old is when you are finally considered and treated as an adult.
Everyone talks about how at this age, you can now buy tobacco and scratch tickets, change your name, get a tattoo or piercing, sue someone, work more hours, and don't forget VOTE.
Everyone talks about how awesome and exciting it is to turn 18 and be able to vote. You now have this voice that you didn't have before. You have a say in national, state, and local decisions. Seems like a whole lot of power for an 18 year old, am I right? How exciting... or is it?
What everyone doesn't talk about, is how scary this has the potential of being for a teen coming across their first voting experience. It seems like all fun and games, until you are standing in the booth as a young adult with a slip full of questions, a pen full of power and a mind full of bewilderment.
As a newly turned young adult during this coming election, we don't have a clear mind of what is the right vote for our country. What we have is influences all around us. Everywhere we look, something is telling us what WE should do, who WE should vote for, how WE should answer a certain question.
We have parents. Some of us might have parents telling us what they believe we should vote for, but some of us don't. Some of us have parents who are voting for two different candidates. Some of us have parents arguing over the state questions. Some of us have parents who don't even want to vote, while others have parents with bumper stickers, flags, shirts, and signs in the front yard who laugh hysterically at the consideration of the other candidate.
We have friends. For some reason, more than half of the population of males aged 18-21 think they know exactly what this country needs at this day in age, yet they don't always have an explanation why they TRULY BELIEVE in their vote. I walk through a college campus and see hats, t-shirts, posters, cardboard cutouts, the whole nine yards. Yet if you sit down with some of them and try and actually ask them why they promote their choice so strongly, they sometimes laugh and say, "it makes my neighbor mad," or "the shirt was on sale and I thought it was funny," or my favorite, "my buddy bought one, so I did." The fact that sales at Spencer's are swaying our generations votes is appalling.
We have social media. Recently you can't go on any social media platform without seeing something having to do with the election. We have our third cousin's Facebook rant from 9am this morning. We have Saturday Night Live presidential skits being shared left and right. We have good friends blocking each other so that they don't have to see their opposing party's posts. And of course, we have the actual candidates themselves getting in Twitter fights.
We have TV. Honestly, can't a girl watch her favorite TV show without having to be interrupted by a candidate "approving this message" about the other? Commercials, skits, news broadcasts, talk shows, everything. There is no escaping.
I understand it is very important that our country is about to go through a very large change. I also understand how significant voting actually is. But this is what I am trying to say: because of how important and significant this nation wide event is, it is scary. It is terrifying, actually, and lately there has been no escape.
I can almost guarantee that most of you adults out there have not even considered how much pressure you are putting on us teenagers when you talk about us voting. It might not have been as big a deal for you your first time voting, but it's SCARY for some of us knowing how insane this term's election is, and most of you are not making it any easier on us.
I believe I speak for many of us new voters when I say this: I haven't had a single in-depth conversation about what I am about to check off on a ballot slip on Tuesday. Whenever the topic has been approached, it has been nothing but, "say yes to this, say no to that, go ____, screw ____." Not once have I been asked what I truly believe in, and not once have I been asked if I need further explanation on anything.
Before you expect your son, daughter, niece, nephew, friend, coworker, or classmate to be jumping into the car to drive to the town hall to vote, ask them if they're mentally prepared. Perhaps ask them if they need any clarification on anything, or if they need help deciding on something. This is real, and this is scary.
All I ask is that you please understand and acknowledge that.