I've lived through five election cycles, three of which I can vividly remember, since I studied them in every phase of my education. This is the first time that I have been eligible to vote in an election, and like many of my fellow millennial, it kind of feels like we got gipped. This year's cycle resembles middle school more than it resembles the presidential race, and it does feel like I'm having to chose which STD I want rather than who I want to lead my country for the next four years, but I am still so grateful that this is the first election I get to submit a ballot for.

I can't tell you how many friends and family members I have heard say that they would rather not vote than have to vote one for one of the front-running candidates. Simply put, that is just a shame. First of all, having the right to vote and participate in democracy is the most incredible gift. It gives us a voice and it gives us power. Some people may believe that their one vote is insignificant in the grand scheme of things or that the electoral college is going to screw everyone over in the election, but honestly, if you don't vote or make your voice heard, then you have no right to complain when the outcome isn't what you were hoping for.

Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to four different continents during my semester abroad. During those four months, I witnessed firsthand how different forms of government affect and oppress people. In so many other countries, women aren't even allowed to speak in public without the permission of a man, let alone cast a vote in an election. Our ancestors fought for years for the freedom to establish this country and women kept up that fights for another one hundred plus years to have the same rights as men. Not casting a vote this November 8th would be an insult to their memory and their work.

There is a lot at stake this election cycle. Our voice matters. Our vote matters. I'm not a huge fan of any candidate, but I refuse to not vote this year. The future of our country, and frankly, of our world, is at stake. America is a great place to live. We still have plenty of problems facing our country, but we have so much more to lose if people do not go out to the polls on November 8th. Exercise your right. Be proud of your citizenship. And vote.

If you live in California, register to vote here: http://registertovote.ca.gov/