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fishingboatproceeds:

Hi. So when I was 18, and 20, and 22, I did not vote.

I was really scared of voting.

I’m always kind of overwhelmed by new situations, and voting seemed truly terrifying: 1. There are strangers there; 2. I wasn’t sure if some of those strangers would try to keep me from voting; 3. I might have to stand in line; 4. the voting machines would be scary and weird; 5. I knew the basics of who I wanted to vote for, but I didn’t know a lot about the ballot initiatives, many of which—when I would consult sample ballots—seemed to be intentionally obtuse.

Basically, I fell into this obsessive thought spiral and it felt like the only way out of all my anxiety and fear was just not to vote, and so I didn’t, because not voting is pretty easy.

This happens to me all the time, even about very little things: Like, every day I have to take this pill in order to be overall less inclined toward obsessive thought spirals, and some days it becomes incredibly hard to take the pill, because not taking the pill is technically easier, and my brain cycles through all these terrible possible outcomes associated with taking the pill, like how I will have to swallow and what if the pill gets stuck in my esophagus and also I will have to drink something, and what if the tap water I drink contains salmonella and etc.

Voting is different from taking your medicine, but I think maybe some of the time when people say “My vote won’t count anyway,” or “I don’t feel informed enough to vote,” or whatever they say, what they’re really saying is, “Everything in my regular everyday life is challenging and hard enough without having to add this weird unknown voting thing to my life.”

And people will dismiss that feeling as silly—which maybe technically it is; like, I guess it’s technically silly that I find it incredibly hard to take my medication on some days—but it is real and if you feel that way, you are not alone or a freak or a failure of democracy or anything like that.

For one thing, there are people who do not want you to vote, and in many places they have made it hard to do so. But hopefully not impossible! For another, new things are scary and overwhelming to a lot of people.

So here’s what I have learned about voting:

1. At almost every polling place, there is someone who will advocate for your right to vote and try to make it easy for you.

2. If you go to the wrong polling place, or you aren’t registered, no one will get mad at you.

3. If you vote for the wrong person by accident, no one will get mad at you. They just give you a new ballot.

4. You are not the worst-informed voter in the United States.

5. The trick of having only experienced voters know how to navigate the process of voting is an attempt by those who have power to retain it. You deserve to be heard. Your voice is valuable. So take a few deep breaths, look up your polling place, and become one of the people that the U.S.’s elected representatives must answer to.

I know it’s not easy, and I congratulate and thank every single person reading this who voted in this election.

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