Nineteen and Voting

If the primaries had ended differently, there would be no question about where my vote would go this November. But they ended how they ended, and now I have a lot to think about. After all, this is the first major election I’m able to vote in.

I’m only nineteen years old. I’ve never filed income taxes; I’ve never paid for health insurance; I don’t pay my car note, or even my phone bill. I don’t mean to say this to give in to this stereotype of “Millenials” as lazy and underachieving, because I’m not. I’m paying for my higher education, I work during school breaks but not during the school year because I prioritize my academics–which I do very well (with a 3.75 grade point average) and I’m pursuing a career that, although not lucrative, will sustain me and make me happy. I’m responsible and educated.

My point is that I haven’t lived a lot. I wasn’t alive for the Gulf War; I was five when the US invaded Iraq. I don’t remember when the Twin Towers fell. I was eleven when the stock market crashed. It means I don’t tend to see these events in an emotional light, but rather in an objective one. I see them in the same way a student sees any historical event they’re taught about in class–i.e. here is what happened, here is why it happened, and here are its effects.

A major historical event that has shaped our country’s entire path since it happened? Bipartisanship. Just as George Washington was making his speech about how doing the thing was not a good idea, America…Well, America was doing the thing.

I’m Southern, which means I’m supposed to be Conservative. I’m also female, young, and Mexican, which means I’m…not. But that doesn’t mean my views align with the deemed “Left” party of the United States, or that my vote is guaranteed one way. Why? Because Democrats aren’t the only Leftists on the ballot. Jill Stein is a completely legitimate and far more left candidate. Conversely, Republicans aren’t the only Rightists on the ballot; Gary Johnson will represent the Libertarian party.

Then comes the question; is your vote really worth anything if you vote outside of the bipartisan system? Can a system really be effective when its two parties are closer to moderate than any other candidate on the ballot? If I don’t agree with any candidate’s views 100% how do I know which one is for me? How can anything be effectively done when our political system was designed to make it almost impossible to create change unless there’s an overwhelming majority of a single party in power? How can we expect any party to come into power when political divides become starker after every debate?

I’ve been thinking about effective democracy because we just finished talking about Athenian democracy in my history course. I liked Athenian democracy because it didn’t care about political affiliation. Athenian democracy considered every man’s opinion on every topic and worked under majority rule. While I understand Athenian democracy is impractical given the size of our country, it sounds like a refreshing change compared to electing whichever candidate you disagree with less.

Regardless of who you vote for, it’s your civic duty to step up and be a part of the change our country is in need of. Voting can be confusing, but that’s what Hank Green is for. Find the video for your state and take some time out of your day to be an active part of our country’s future.

-HH

Doing Okay

Last week was rough and–for once–I don’t mean emotionally. I got the flu, as is the norm a month into dorm life. So I broke out the DayQuil, bought a gallon of OJ, stocked up on vitamins, and only went to class on the days I had exams or exam reviews (just my luck, that meant three days last week).

I went home for the weekend to lay in my childhood bed and sleep for ten hours straight and although I don’t feel 100% better, I feel pretty close.

What I hate about getting sick is that it doesn’t just make me feel groggy and snotty and gross, it also makes me feel like I look gross. And, yeah, I don’t think anyone finds a drippy nose attractive, but that’s not what I mean.

This year I’ve made a conscious effort to do things that improve how I feel about my body and general self esteem. It’s been a really bumpy and 60% ineffective ride. I spent the first three weeks of school putting on makeup before class, because I love putting on makeup and I love how it makes me feel and I love how it makes me look. And then I got sick, and the self-hate took over.

I began to dislike everything about me, from my head to my toes. And even on my worse days, usually, I can find a thing or two I like about me–like my hair, or my thighs. But not recently. Sure, maybe it’s trivial and a side product of having societal norms forced on me, but how I feel about how I look affects me hugely. Especially my social anxiety.

I have a pretty severe case of seborrheic dermatits that makes me stay home some days, because the idea of people looking at me or it overwhelms me. Aside from that, my weight and overall displeasure with my appearance make me unwilling to reach out and meet new people, and even makes me seem unapproachable. Which, yeah, I can be unapproachable. But it shouldn’t be because of how I look.

The solution to this continues to evade me. I’m afraid to exercise outside of my dorm room, because I want to cry when people look at me while I’m active. I have trouble sleeping, and usually eat to entertain myself in the wee hours of the morning–when the only thing open nearby is Cane’s. Additionally, it’s hard to eat healthy on a college kid budget.

But today I’m crawling out of the “I Got Sick and Subsequently Remembered to Hate My Body” hole I dug myself a week ago. I plucked my eyebrows, put on a face mask, and picked a sandwich over McDonald’s for lunch. Maybe tomorrow I will fail. But today I’ve done okay and that’s good enough for me.

-HH

Love Languages

I don’t have a lot of friends–which, admittedly, is not a great way to open up this post. But I’m going with it.

As a person who developed pretty intense social anxiety during her senior year of high school, it’s been hard for me to make the kinds of friendships I made in high school in college. As a person in my sophomore year of college, and as a person in my first semester being active in Greek life, I’m working on the social anxiety thing. The kinds of friendships thing, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I’ve met in my fraternity. I’ve made friends in and outside of Greek life. I feel like I belong, finally, on a campus that swallowed me whole freshman year. I have a place now.

But of the top five most important friends in my life, I have been friends with four for at least seven years. Cameron, the fifth, I’ve known for only over a year; she’s always been a sort of anomaly anyway.

Knowing your best friends since you were twelve means that when nineteen year old you has a problem, they understand it without having to be told. I’ve had years to learn them inside and out, just as they’ve had years to learn me. So why do I still sometimes feel like they don’t want to be my friend?

Then I learned about love languages. Once I learned about it, I felt pretty dumb: of course people express their love for others in different ways. Every person is different, every person’s experiences have been different–no one person experiences, lives, thinks,or loves exactly like another.

My top love languages are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. I’m sure somewhere in there is a case study on one’s parental involvement affecting how one understands love–but, you know, we’ll save that debacle for another time.

I spend all of my time in both romantic and platonic relationships expecting to receive exactly as I give. I’m learning, especially recently, that although that weird adaption of The Golden Rule sounds nice in theory, it’s not always practical in practice. One of my friend’s or partner’s love language might be in gift giving; my understanding of how much they care about me shouldn’t be interpreted by how much time they spend with me, but rather the thought they put into their gifts.

I guess what I’m saying, in a not-completely-clear and roundabout way, is that treating others the way you want to be treated doesn’t always mean buying your best friend a perfect Hanukkah present because the Christmas present you received was exactly what you wanted. Mostly I’m saying that I can’t be blamed for how terrible I am at giving good gifts.

-HH