It’s been four years since I voted in my first presidential election. Four years ago, today’s election seemed like some far off dream but alas here we are filling our ballots and waiting for tonights big announcement. In a (somewhat failed) effort to beat the election lines I participated in early voting last Thursday and have since been trying to figure out what has become of the last four years and who I have become because of them. 

During the election of 2008 I was living near the University of Iowa campus. It was my sophomore year of college and my largest concerns were moving to the city and whose fake ID we could use to buy a case of PBR. Due to my upbringing and a number of cultural factors, I’ve always recognized myself as being liberal so it was an obvious choice as to who my candidate would be. Polling hours came and went, my conservative roommates and I watched as Obama was voted president, and then I dutifully went straight to my old favorite bar for their Tuesday night dance party. To this day I wish I would have invested more into that election; to be more educated, more concerned with what would come after the election, these are things that one needs to think about when choosing a presidential candidate. 

Four years later I’m 24 and a recent college graduate. The blasé attitude I had towards politics has since diminished and when I walked into my polling place on Thursday I knew who I was voting for and for what reasons. It’s no surprise that as you grow older you priorities begin to change: I now find myself thinking about what sort of world I’d like my future children to live in and what kind of people I’d like them to be. I find myself angry and anxious and incredibly depressed all at once because no matter how much I educate myself on these matters (these incredibly important matters that affect how these next 4, 10, even 20 years will play out), there are still people out there who are treating this election the same way I treated the election in 2008, people who would rather point fingers and place blame than take in the issues at hand. 

We’ve conquered a rocky road, my friends, yet looking ahead there’s so much more that still needs to be done. Whatever your vote is today make sure that it is an informed one. Hold any sort of prejudices aside, look around you, and think about what it is that you would like to change. Misinformation and ignorance can and will be our greatest downfall. Now hurry up, get out there and VOTE.