The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Dear Saba: My First Vote


Dear “Naïve” Saba,

Today, I voted for the first time. In the rush of finishing (well, let’s be honest, beginning and finishing) my early college applications in the days leading up to end of October, I had all but forgotten that another huge milestone was quickly approaching: my first vote.

So, less than a week after sending off the essays that could determine my academic future, I found myself at a polling booth completing a ballot that could determine my community’s future.

When you were seven, you put on a brown sash and approached the front of a church’s recreation center. Along with 19 other first-grade girls, you were about to go to your very first Girl Scout troop meeting and had no idea what to expect.

As you passed by a stained glass window and scampered up a flight of stairs, footsteps echoed around you, filling the space and resounding off the old wooden walls.

Trailing your hand cross the smooth and faded banister, you felt oddly at ease. You were in a strange place, but you were not alone.

As I walked to an old church to cast my ballot, the same one that housed my old Girl Scout meetings, the irony of engaging in my first act as a legal adult where I used to sell cookies was not lost on me.

Voting reminded me that despite being one of the oldest students on campus, I am still very young and small.Researching all the propositions and candidates reminded me that there are issues more complex and pressing than finding the derivative of a function or deciphering a line of Shakespeare. My homework assignments seemed underwhelming when tasked with understanding measures and proposals that could shape thousands, if not millions, of people’s lives.

So, for all my inexperience and naïveté, I am still aware of the seriousness of doing my civic duty.

But I can’t help feeling that despite my careful consideration, I was taking a test I had all the answers to but was still going to mess up.

That’s what you don’t realize until you’re marking your ballot in permanent ink: there are no right or wrong answers. And that’s almost worse than failing an exam in school.

During that first meeting, the troop leaders established the many rules of the group. You only remembered a few: raise your hand to speak; listen to your fellow troop members; don’t play the piano in the corner.

But as grubby fingers pounded out another round of “Chopsticks” on the faded keys, the meeting progressed without the initial formality.

Sometimes, things just happen that don’t fit the set structure or sometimes people don’t follow the rules.

I thought I was going to write about how it felt to passionately express my love of voting and reaffirm the grandeur of being engaged with something greater than an individual goal, but you already know what a privilege it is to be able to have your voice heard.

The truth is, more than anything else, voting for the first time prompted me to realize that there is still a world outside of my little bubble, I have much to learn and that the things I prioritize in life will change. And that’s okay.

“Nuanced” Saba

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Dear Saba: My First Vote