Usually, when reflecting on the end of the year and what is to come, people tend to post beginning/end of year selfies or state their resolutions. Instead, I would like to tell you how, this year, a presidential candidate changed my life. In January of 2019, I was lost and scared of the future. Not just in terms of our political climate, especially since 2016, but personally as well. At the end of 2018 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. In January I was coming back to school for the first time since going into inpatient treatment.
While better than I first was, I knew I faced the scary and oftentimes excruciatingly long path towards finding stability and proper treatment. I was too focused on that at first to pay much attention to the primaries. It was early, anyway. In February, during a regular YouTube browsing binge, a recommended video called Pete Buttigieg: The Case For A Younger President from Colbert popped up. Intrigued, I clicked on it, & 7 minutes later I was introduced to Pete Buttigieg, and knew right away he was my candidate. His kindness, empathy, and desire to make the world a better, more welcoming place for everyone was evident.
I educated myself on all things Pete. I found joy, and not fear, in paying attention to politics for the first time in a long time. I also realized politics was my calling. In June, I switched my major to Political Science (after a lot of prior changes) and threw myself into it. When watching Pete’s speech on Health and Belonging in America, he mentioned Bipolar Disorder by name, stating how it shouldn’t be stigmatized or treated any differently than a physical ailment. While seemingly simple, hearing a presidential candidate not just acknowledge, but advocate for people like myself was nothing I had ever heard before. Emotional and inspired, I began volunteering in my area for Pete.
Through meeting others, it quickly became clear we supported Pete for different reasons, and that was celebrated and encouraged. I was feeling better, and like I was finally able to make a tangible difference, what more could I ask for? Then, I was honored with the opportunity to become the UCF Campus Coordinator for Pete. Perhaps about 8 hours after accepting the position, I was told that Pete’s husband, Chasten, would be in the area and was willing to come to my university and speak to students. I had never been more happy to be stressed, and, thanks to the confidence the campaign had given me, was able to plan and moderate a Q&A with Chasten and my peers (and yes, Chasten is just as kind and welcoming as he seems!).
Though I have only been in this role for a short time, I can undoubtedly say it has changed my life. While I’m not going to say Pete single handedly gave me stability (thank you therapy & medication), I can say without a doubt he has given me something to fight for & believe in. I have gained friends from campuses across the country. Most importantly, I have gained hope. I am honored and proud to be a member of and #StudentsforPete. Let’s go into 2020 with fire in our bellies and #WintheEra.