Why it took me 10 years to vote...

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I'd never really taken an interest in politics growing up. I remember something about first-past-the-post in my Humanities class but to be honest it was so technical and wordy I didn't enjoy learning about it. It's not my education at blame here, i'm just stating the obvious that even though I was taught about our voting system and why we should vote, it didn't really resonate with me. Hell, I still had a couple years to pass before I could even vote so why did it matter to me? I cared more about being cool in front of boys and wearing Von Dutch hats then to try and understand why politics and voting was important. 

It's also worth saying that my family rarely discussed politics. Not because it was taboo or anything like that - we just weren't a family that discussed current affairs really. We watched TV and played boardgames - we were in our own bubble I guess. Even to this day my family aren't engaged in voting. 

A quick Google search has told me that since I turned 18 I have been eligible to vote in 2 major elections and the Brexit vote. During this time I sat back and did nothing. Eek. 

I want to explain what made me vote this time around. Why now? Up until Brexit I can honestly say I was still dis-engaged with politics and only really knew bits of information via social media when I saw a hashtag trending or if something scandalous happened with MPs's. Occasionally i'd get involved in what I call 'grown-up' conversations at work but as soon as it got more serious or debatable I tuned out and got back to my work. I wasn't interested again.

The real turning point for me was Brexit- ok so I didn't vote in the EU referendum, i'll explain why in a second. I did however start to recognise that it was an important time to get interested in politics. I slowly started to build my own interest and understand how I might make a difference. I started to read up on information, had some help from friends with where to look for clarity etc but in all honestly... I was overwhelmed. There was language used that I didn't really understand, I tried an anonymous test - multiple times might I add- but it came out different each time. It really wasn't clear to me how I should vote. I gave up, lost interest and kept schtum about not voting. Naively I didn't think it would make a difference and certainly never thought the vote would end up the way that it has. What a clanger. 

So when Theresa May announced this snap election I really wanted to get involved and I decided now was the time to vote. So much shit has happened in our world over the past 10 years and something just clicked in me. I knew it was the right time for me personally. Maybe it was maturity? Never have I been more educated about the world we live in now. I've experienced life outside my sheltered family bubble. I've experienced my own struggles, I know what it's like to have sizeable debt, living independently, not being able to afford my own house feeling trapped on the renting market, a serious health scare (where I was so thankful for the NHS and the help I received)... it's my life right now where I need help from the government and actually the big eye-opener was actually thinking about my life in the next 5 years. I finally get it. I registered to vote.

I want to have children. I want to live in my own home. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to live in an environmentally conscious world. I want homelessness and food banks to become a thing of the past. 

I read through each manifesto. I have to be honest - there wasn't a stand out choice for me. It was still hard to decipher. I agreed with snippets of different manifestos. I watched the televised debate and found that very helpful.  A no-show from our own Prime Minister, a UKIP candidate blaming all terrorist attacks on muslims (what about the tragic murder of Jo Cox...) and some great responses and challenges from the SNP and Plaid Cymru. I think Caroline Lucas came across wonderfully. Ideally I would love to live in a world where the Green's would thrive. I really rated their manifesto but sadly the reality is that it's not the world we live in. It was also great to see Jeremy Corbyn in action (the media always portrays him as weak I feel) and see how he came across in a debate. Not bad really. 

So anyway I've rambled on. Let me tell you about my day today. I voted! I did it! I went to my local polling station and I got my voting paper and put a big ol' cross on it. And now i'm sat writing this post, watching live coverage of the exit poll. Exciting times ahead by the looks of things!


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