College and your 20s are when you figure out who you are. You live and learn and form your own opinions, standards and beliefs. This self-awareness should be most prominent come Election Day.
Elections are when your voice is heard and your opinion matters. When you go to the polls, make sure it is your vote. Not the vote of your parents, your peers, the media or any other influence.
It’s easy to vote for a candidate or stick to a political party because that’s who your parents are voting for without giving it much thought. It’s easy to vote for whomever seems to be the popular pick among your friends and peers.
You, for the most part, trust the opinions of your family and friends. However, you have a voice of your own, unique to you and you alone.
Now is the best time to find that voice.
Research candidates and look into the issues. What do you, really, think the right answer is?
The classes you’ve taken, things you’ve experienced and people you’ve met have all shaped you into the person you are today. That person might not have the same opinion as your parents or friends.
I know my opinions have certainly changed throughout the years. Certain experiences in my life have shaped me into the person I am. My experiences are different from those of the person sitting next to me in class, different from the experiences of my closest friends. Therefore my opinions might be slightly different, or even completely different.
On the contrary, you might find that you have the exact same opinions as your parents or friends. They are a big part of your life. Your parents raised you, and your friends are your friends usually because you have a lot in common. It would make sense that some of you would agree upon some things.
Do not decide to do the opposite of the people around you just to stand out or to make a statement.
Ultimately, when you go to vote, know where you stand on the candidates and issues, and vote for what you think is best.
Anna Rush is a second-year law student from Hattiesburg. Follow her on Twitter @annakrush.