Conservative vs. Progressive: Sometimes You Have to See Change to Believe It

I’ve never been a fan of the bipartisan politics in the United States. After learning about how most other countries elect politicians, I’ve never understood why we choose to limit ourselves. That being said, I’ve always struggled to identify with a party.

Both of my parents are 100% Republicans, which is not surprising, especially coming from a rural town and being white, middle class. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly traditional by any means, but I do have a strong memory of supporting conservative politics.

It was probably early high school when I started to form my own opinions on the world. After being confirmed at the end of 8th grade, my mom granted us permission to continuing going to church or not. I had known for awhile that I was not at all religious, so that was when I started really questioning ~life~

I distinctly remember pondering why anyone wouldn’t be a “conservative.” I internally rationalized that like natural selection and evolution, changes can only occur slowly over time. You can’t be radical and expect you’re going to change the world!

Oh, sweet, naive, baby Mary. You keep me humble.

I never believed in being liberal or progressive until I realized that change was possible through words and action.

Even though I was a writer in high school, editor of the school newspaper and a freelance contributor for a local newspaper, I still didn’t think I had a voice. I was the shy, awkward girl talking in a corner with hushed tones to whoever wanted to listen, but I didn’t want to bother anyone.

My first two years of college, my self-confidence was at an all-time low, and I wasn’t even writing at all. When I began writing again after my junior year, it took a long time for me to find my voice. I didn’t want to disturb anyone with my thoughts, and I definitely didn’t want anyone to judge me for thinking outside of the box.

The more I wrote, the more feedback I received. CHAARG girls from around the country that I had never met before told me that they loved my posts and that I was such an inspiration to them. By sharing my journey with disordered eating, I realized I was changing people’s lives and how they approached health and fitness. I had found my voice.

Once I branched out from writing about fitness and health, I began to realize I could empower strangers through simple blog posts. It wasn’t about “sticking it to the man” or whatever false feminist jargon people like to mock. I was writing to educate women to explore opportunities that would empower them. Maybe I couldn’t change the world, but I could change lives.

By participating in marches and protests, I saw people collaborate and unite against causes greater than their own personal lives. I began to see what changes are possible if you don’t limit yourself, and now I can visualize the future through progression.

I don’t consider myself radical by any means. I have more left-wing beliefs and liberal tendencies, but if you forced me in a box, I would identify with moderate. I have an open-mind for all stances, but that doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes at the excessive extremists on both sides.

If I didn’t live in a big city, I wouldn’t be able to witness so much diversity and change firsthand. I have broadened my perspectives, but I definitely still play devil’s advocate in most discussions regarding urban vs. rural. I get defensive when people bash small towns — only I can make fun of my hometown!

Remember, you don’t have to change the world to change lives. If you’re living your best life, empathizing with others and thinking critically, anything is possible. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

++ Mary K

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