An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Voting

 

element5-digital-1126225-unsplash.jpgIt’s that time of year again! It’s voting time! As an awkward person, everything about voting in person is scary and stressful, but it’s such an important part of the democratic process. The system doesn’t work unless we all get involved… even the awkward people. It’s too late for early voting (which is probably the easiest solution for you awkward folks out there), but you still don’t have to be stressed or scare yourself out of participating.  Voting is an awesome responsibility but it isn’t as nerve wracking as it can seem. In fact it is one of the quietest, most introverted ways to make your voice heard. So get to it! Here are some last minute tips to make it as painless as possible.

Find your reason.

Find an issue or a race that matters to you and makes you feel like your vote matters. There are no shortage of issues facing our states and country as a whole. A couple of them probably matter to you, even if you haven’t thought much about how the vote you cast plays a part. If you’re a woman, remember that suffragettes fought for years and went to jail to get you the right to vote. Reminding yourself of the purpose and value in the difficult action makes it easier to go, at least for me.

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Declaration of Sentiments from Seneca Falls, NY, the location of the first Woman’s Rights Convention in the United States.

Do your research.

You can find your ballot online pretty easily. I usually use Vote411 but I’ve also used Ballotpedia. There are a lot of other personalized ballot tools online. If you’re in a more rural area, you might still end up with some local political races that you don’t know about, but you can find a lot of information about the statewide and national races you’ll be voting for. You can see, in many cases, overviews of the positions each candidate has.

From there you can also review their websites, interviews and social media interactions to try to get a sense of their positions. Understand that everyone is trying to say what they think you want to here, but you can get the basics to make an informed choice. Mark it on your ballot and print a copy to take with you. You don’t have to memorize your choices. Bring it with you and you can feel a little more confident in what you’ll have to do on voting day. It’s also a good idea to review your rights as a voter, just in case. Here’s a good resource from Rock the Vote

Make a plan.

Find your polling place and it’s hours. Again, a quick search will help you out. Figure out when you can fit voting into your schedule. Write it down. Block it off on your calendar. Don’t miss it. Factor in travel time and a bit of standing in line. Find a buddy to go with. Just have a solid plan that is feasibly built into your day. You can help yourself know what’s going to happen and hype yourself up for it. It will probably require a little more stress than your average day, but you can do it if you just think it through.

I also usually plan out other aspects of my day as well. I try to have an outfit planned (because a good outfit can make a good day better). If the outfit pays homage to suffragettes or matches my voting sticker- all the better! Having a lunch packed and a plan for the evening also helps because it helps me feel more in control of an out-of-the-ordinary day. Make sure you’ve located your voting card the night before as well!

Go at an unusual time.

Depending on where your live, certain time at a polling place can busy. Waiting in long lines of people talking about politics might seem like a nightmare for your poor awkward girl heart… at least it is for mine. If you can avoid peak voting times like the evening and during lunch, you might be better off. I try to go first thing in the morning. There are usually some people during that time, but I’ve always had luck getting through quickly.

Also be prepared to walk through a wall of people to to get in. Just put on a smile and let them know you’ve made your decision and keep walking. If anyone bothers you past that, please let someone know in the polling place. No one is supposed to harass you on your way to the poll. Also remember that your polling place is staffed by volunteers so offer them a smile too, if you can. Their might be some awkward interactions with them, but they also help the democratic process work.

Give yourself a reward.

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My husband once made me this sticker because I was mad I didn’t get an official one. He’s a good guy.

Ok, you did it! You voted. Now treat yourself to something a little bit special! I almost always go out for a coffee and a scone before work since I have to get up earlier than usual on voting day. But if you’re not into that sort of treat, treat yourself to some extra couch time after work or a special dinner. Anything that adds a little fun into a stressful day and allows you to look forward to a reward. Hopefully you’ll also get a sticker because there’s something magic about getting rewarded with a sticker (or is that just me?).

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Voting

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Free Time (or general) Productivity

That’s kinda a pretentious title. I apologize.  Let me explain.

I’m not the kind of person who entertains a lot of free time. Free time makes me really anxious. I like to do lots of things, and at school, I fill up my schedule. Even if it’s not all “work,” I keep myself busy. Then, this big old summer thing came along. I just found out that I got an internship, but it doesn’t start til the middle of June. Even then, I’m not full time until JULY 22. So, I’ve been faced with a lot more unstructured time than usual and it’s kinda freaking me out.

I’ve been doing a lot of DIY crafts (including a super awesome book purse that I’ll probably post pictures of soon) and reading, but I keep getting this nagging feeling like I should be working. Though relaxation is valuable, I  don’t want to do nothing. So, I’ve come up with a plan to keep myself from going insane and hopefully induce mad productivity (one can hope). It looks a little bit like this:

1. FIGURE OUT SOME LONG TERM GOALS– By the end of the summer I’d like to: what? I’d like to have finished this novel I started ages ago. I’d like to be blogging several times a week. I’d like to have a healthy eating/ exercising routine that I can carry into the school year. You get what I mean. The long term goals can be even more general. What have you always wanted to do if you had more time? What have you been putting off? They don’t all have to be attainable goals at first either. Brainstorm a lot of goals. You never know when something might become attainable even though it didn’t seem like it a first.

I figure this is one of my last chances to have real “free” time for a while, and so I better put it to use. This works on smaller scale free time too, however. Last summer, I started out just working two days a week. Even when I got to the point where I only had one day a week off, I still used a similar strategy.

2. SCHEDULE YOUR DAYS– This might sound a little obsessive. I don’t think you need to have an hourly schedule (although if that works for you, go for it). Just start adding some consistency to your days. This is hard for me without school or work influencing my life, especially. Set a bed time and a awake time even if they are a little lax. Then set daily goals and think about when you will achieve them. For example, I’ve started getting up and doing a specific exercise routine. Then I shower and eat lunch. Then I work on my project for the day. It’s a pretty  chill schedule, but it is increasingly including goals.

3. STAY ACCOUNTABLE– Find someone who will call you out if you start being a lazy jerk (or just stop fulfilling your goals). Obviously free time has slip ups where you end up doing something worthless for way too long, but that just can’t be the norm. Tell a friend to bother you about your writing goal. Keep track of your eating/exercising habits somewhere relatively public. Post on social media about your goal. Do something so that you don’t give up on day two. This is a very important step for me. I think I’m going to keep a word count calendar on my fridge so my mom can bother me about it. I’ve already started telling my friends about my achievements, not to brag, but so I have someone to ask, “Hey have you worked on that lately?”

Though I like to mix it up every once in awhile, it’s important to finish things. Crossing things off of your long term goal list. Be proud of your accomplishments. All of these things help the whole motivation thing when there are no real deadlines breathing down your neck. I really miss deadlines.

4. PRIORITIZE– Sometimes your schedule’s going to go out the window completely. Don’t fret. Sometimes important things come up. Sometimes you have to go to the dentist (yuck) or clean your room. These things aren’t probably on your long term goal list, but they are pretty important. That’s ok.  STAY CALM.  If you spend a free day worrying about your future, stop it, take a step back, and work on goals. If your goals seem to big, break them up into smaller ones. If you miss your word count and eat crap all day and stop exercising for a whole week, its ok. You can jump back on the wagon. Deep breaths. The end is not nigh. You are not a failure. It is free time after all.

Maybe, unlike me, you don’t freak out when you have free time. Maybe you’re cool with wide expanses and nothing to do. Congratulations. Ignore my list. Maybe you never have free time and therefore thing my list is trivial and a result of my own laziness. I assure you that this is not true. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is the same set of steps I go through when I’m unbearably and impossibly busy and stressed. It’s just a modification of the same steps. So there. That’s how I try to be productive in my own awkward way. Feel free to share your own tips in comments!

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Free Time (or general) Productivity