*Disclaimer: This is not where I would like to address my political position. If you want to know, just ask later.

As of writing this article, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election/Comedy/Horror Show/Parody is coming down to the home stretch, and everybody is either,

1. Freaking out about what the outcome is, with some reactions on hold for the worst-case scenario,

2. Tired of the nonsense coming out of wherever they can access the news, and

3. Decided whom they were going to vote for and therefore, wants to relax for a moment or never hear about it again.

Thus, we have a negative atmosphere over what will be a pivotal election cycle, no matter which candidate wins. Even with this sense of foreboding, some of us might decide to not vote.

I want to say, first and foremost, this is my first year voting for American political offices. I’ve been thinking about it since I’ve turned eighteen a year, seven months, and four days ago. Like a bunch of other people, I have never expected to see an election filled with vermin and atmospheric consequences and drama out of a favorite television series. At the same time, amidst the chaos ensuing into a hurricane, I’m learning a bit about we conduct the political process.

First, all of us want to see a better political future. Hearing about the effects of climate change and the possibility our generation might be worse off than in previous ones, amplified by the political rhetoric we hear, it’s hard to see that. I’d like to think that we just have different routes on where our country should go. Of course, it’s never that easy; everyone, more likely than not, will disagree with each other’s points of view. Basing on this, I learned I had to find where I stand, but hope compromise will come out in the future.

Second, based on that view, voting can enhance critical thinking skills. Poring over Politifact, hoping the moderators would call out on one of the candidates when they get a fact wrong, and analyzing the candidates’ political positions repeatedly to make the right decision, we learn quickly that there’s a lot more than meets the eye. And deciding which rhetoric can be ironclad versus one that blows in the wind is also difficult, as we lean towards who’s coughing, sniffling, or more affirmative. But once we get out of that lens of image, it’s the ideas that are important.

On the other hand, voting is just one of many things a citizen can do to participate. Personally, I think my vote is almost game-changing, and the only way I could make a difference. However, politics is not only the headlines for one election cycle, it’s a lot of day to day decisions and actions. I’ve heard of friends heading different groups for different causes, volunteering for political campaigns, and going out to protest. So, if we want to go out and make change, the one thing we could is use our talents for different causes. And follow news reports more often than right now.

Amidst the pessimism and vitriol thrown out in this election, we still have something to look forward to as first-time voting youth. We get to see how the political process goes on when campaigning, realizing what we want from our government, and learning about how we enhance our role in public policy. We have seen the worst stuff presidential campaigns have to offer, and now can use what we know to improve the future.

To do so, we also should vote.