When I was 18, my main concerns were perfecting my eyeliner and making sure my fringe wasn’t wonky. The only thing I’d ever voted for was Kerry Katona winning I’m A Celebrity. I remember being 11 years old, sitting in my pyjamas on the sofa, and voting five times on a Siemens A60 that had a weird version of the Friends theme tune as its ringtone. I loved the small act of voting. Of sending my opinion out into the universe and feeling like I somehow mattered. When the person I’d chosen won, I was ecstatic. I’d picked the winner! It wasn’t something that mattered much, but it mattered to me back then. And winning felt pretty nice.
I don’t really remember people my age caring much about politics when I was 18. I didn’t know what was going on in the world, and this was partly to do with the fact that every piece of news didn’t feel quite so much like the Actual End of the World in the way it does in 2017. If you asked me to tell you about anything going on in 2011, I’d be able to tell you my favourite album from that year (Torches by Foster the People) and what TV show I was watching (New Girl), but nothing about what actually happened. In the world.
I am now 24 and have been eligible to vote for 6 years, yet tomorrow will only be my third time voting. That’s right. I was that person. Lying to friends when they asked me if I’d voted yet, never able to understand why one vote mattered. I was the person who straight up forgot to do it. Every. Single. Time. I was a stereotypical, young, disengaged voter. Voting seemed like something old people did (and, statistically, it is). I didn’t feel grown up enough to understand it or care about it, so I just didn’t.
But things are different now. At least I think so. It seems to me that more and more young people are starting to care, probably due to the complete and utter shitstorm that is the state of the world right now, and that’s amazing. I wish I’d been as engaged as some of the young people I know are now. For me, it wasn’t until I left the safety of the university bubble, and entered the world of jobs and paying for things, that I started taking more of an active interest in the world around me. I started reading a lot more about current events and discussing topics with family and friends that I’d never have discussed before. I started forming my own opinions, and began to feel like that 11 year old girl sat on the sofa, wanting those opinions to be heard. These days things may not be as simple as wanting to crown someone Queen of the Jungle, and you very rarely get to feel like you’ve won anything, but it’s definitely a start.
I don’t want to write a post telling you who to vote for. I’ve been talking about this a lot with my friends and it’s astonishing how different our opinions and reasons for voting certain ways are. From reading above, you’ll be able to gather that I’m probably the least qualified person to tell you who to vote for but, by 10pm this evening, I hope that you do. #TurnUp and vote for a party that you believe will be able to make a positive impact for people in this country. Vote for a party that will look after people who are not just like you, but have a collection of struggles you may never have to face in your life. Vote thoughtfully and then go and tell a friend to vote too. Because your vote counts. And, of course, if you don’t vote and it all goes tits up, you are officially not allowed to complain about it.