It’s time for the October AskSHE column by Guest Columnist Abby Lee Hood!Abby Lee picked three #rockthevote questions for our SHEeducates series and gives advice on choosing who to vote for, navigating uncomfortable political conversations and taking care of yourself when the world feels crazy. Have a question that you want to #askAbbyLee? Email us at youngbosSHE@gmail.com with your question and first name and last initial and you could be featured in the next AskSHE column!
About the Author: Abby Lee Hood is a queer sci-fi/fantasy writer and full-time social media manager in Nashville, TN. She loves stories that make the hard days a little easier, whether it’s telling a joke while presenting a social media workshop, writing a short story or tweeting about a cause her client supports. Ask her about her love for Chicago and adopting senior dogs.
Q: How do I make a decision about who to vote for?
A: This is a really great question, and I’m excited you’re looking to make the best choice! Educating yourself on the issues and candidates is a really exciting and important process, especially as you start to see who’s running in your local districts because the issues they campaign on will impact you even more.
You may already have some idea of which party or candidate you like best, but it’s okay if you’re not sure. Try starting with by visiting On The Issues, a website that tells you exactly where a candidate stands on any particular issue. Be sure the candidate you choose aligns with the issues you most care about. If you’re not sure what your opinion on a specific topic is yet, that’s okay too! Try reading opinion articles from diverse sources—including straight up news reporting, opinion pieces, blogs or podcasts. Find activists working for causes you believe in and read their tweets. You may not totally support their stance on a topic, but it’ll give you a place to learn, grow and form your own opinions.
Make sure you’re registered to #RockTheVote, too! Make sure you’re registered to #RockTheVote, too! That’s the most important part. The US.gov voting website can get you started, but it should only take a minute to Google your state’s registration site and get set up. From there, you can usually get a sample ballot before you go to the polls, so you have plenty of time to make your choices. Take your sample ballot and/or your phone with you to your polling location to help you vote, but DON’T take selfies or bring campaign materials. The rules differ among states, so make sure you know what isn’t allowed before you go! And of course, don’t forget ID.
Q: How do I talk about politics with my family who does NOT have the same views as me?
A: First of all let me say I feel you on this, because I tend to feel very differently about politics than my family. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them, but it does mean we have disagreements.
I would first ask what your motivation for wanting to have the conversation is. Do you feel the need to call someone out on problematic or unacceptable behavior? If so, this is a good reason to speak up, and you should! Calmly and respectfully explain why a word, phrase or idea is harmful. Listen to their response and try to have a real conversation. While it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, what I personally hate most is letting my emotions get the best of me. It isn’t that I don’t feel passionately about what I’m saying, it’s that I don’t like being an angry person, and I tend to best explain why something is important to me when I’m thinking rationally. Your face might get red and your hands might shake, but speak your piece and get ready to listen.
Hopefully, your family and you are able to find middle ground. I’m sure you’re all concerned about similar issues but may have different ideas of how to get there. However, at the end of day, remember two things: it isn’t your job to educate or change someone’s mind, and you aren’t obligated to put yourself in danger. it isn’t your job to educate or change someone’s mind, and you aren’t obligated to put yourself in danger.
In times like these, it’s important to support, build up and stand up for minority and oppressed communities. You can and should try your best to tell your family what’s important to you, and if they love and respect you, they’ll listen. But sometimes, people aren’t able to understand where you’re coming from, and they might not ever be able to. People cannot meet you where they have not yet met themselves. It’s a disappointing but sad truth we have to work past. So speak what’s on your heart, but don’t get down on yourself if they aren’t willing to listen. That’s on them.
Lastly, some people may live in a household where being yourself or being openly opinionated isn’t safe. And in life, there are going to be some people, family or not, you simply cannot engage with. They may be hateful, violent, or make you feel unsafe. That’s never, ever okay. Save your energy and emotional labor for places and people that will respond in a respectful, measured way, and where you may have more impact. Don’t feel obligated to put yourself in physical danger. Work hard everyday to remove yourself from that situation and remember you aren’t alone.
Q: Okay, so do I have to read the news every day? It gets pretty stressful!
A: Yeah, that’s a big old nope! A total no from me, dog.
Listen, I get it. We all want to be educated and informed about every political issue we can, and that’s great! That’s part of being a responsible citizen. But sometimes the crazy news cycle and the topics we hear about, like sexual assault, can be traumatizing. So I want you to know it’s okay not to be okay. it’s okay not to be okay You don’t have to be a strong warrior princess every single day all the time.
Take breaks from watching or reading the news. Turn off your phone. I personally don’t allow myself social media after 10 pm at night, though I do sometimes make exceptions for special events. Take a walk, take a breather, take a hiatus. Whatever you need to do! One of my favorite coping tools is calling my best friend, who’s also an awesome writer and journalist, and walking around the neighborhood we rant, cry, laugh, and listen. It’s a great way to blow off steam and get a mile or two in!
So step away, friend! The news will be there when you’re rested. And of course, if things are feeling too stressful, please reach out to a trusted adult, friend, therapist or other resource. You’re too important to the world to get dragged down!
ICYMI: We dropped Episode 10 of SHEspeaks last month!