Every year I make New Year’s resolutions.
In 1999 I wrote in my journal that I was going to, “Be more confident and not care what other people thought.” Yeah, still waiting on that one.
Six years ago, after a few too many cocktails, I announced to my friend Noah that 2012 was going to be about, “Mental health and wearing more earrings!” I’ll let you guess how that went.
This year, I tried to make sure my resolutions were things on which I could follow through. I didn’t promise to go the gym (yeah right) or cut back on caffeine. (Hahahaha. Ha.) Rather, I tried to figure out what I really needed in my life and go from there.
One of the resolutions I decided on was to become more politically involved. If this election cycle has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not doing enough for the causes I really care about.
I wrote this vow down, read it out loud, placed it on my bedside table and promptly… forgot about it.
Until, two weeks later, when I got a text from a man I didn’t know, inviting me to a local election and asking for my vote.
My first thought was, “How did he get this number? Does he know where I live? Should I put a bat under my bed?” But then I re-read his message and took a page from my millennial friends: I just shrugged and decided I didn’t really care if he had all my information.
Besides, this was an opportunity to follow through on my resolution. Here was a man (or possible axe murderer) inviting me to be involved. I couldn’t say no.
So last Sunday, I pulled myself out of bed, convinced Jason to come with me, and went to do my civic duty.
I was shocked at how many people were there – at an event I hadn’t even known existed until a few weeks ago.
It was loud and noisy. The line stretched out the building and down the street. Candidates weaved in and out of the crowd, pitching themselves and asking for our vote.
It was so direct, so in your face, so exactly what I want democracy to be. I shook candidates hands, asked them their opinions, and felt like I was a part of this country again. That my voice mattered, that I was affecting change in a simple, basic way.
I cast my ballot and felt the grey exhaustion of the past election fade a little.
I know there are a lot of people who think that it’s silly to be concerned or even fear the upcoming administration. That people who feel that way are whiners or sore losers or even blind. (Hi, Grandma!)
All I know is how I feel when I turn on the news, glance at the paper, or (I can’t believe I’m saying this) read a tweet. It’s a little grip on my heart, a little dark something that I can’t seem to shake.
But for the first time since November, standing in that polling place, some of that fear melted – or rather, it turned into hope. Maybe the more I do, the better I’ll feel.
Here was a resolution I could keep.
Now I’ve just got to start wearing more earrings.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.