Written by: Veronica Maciag
My household is filled with contradictory opinions, sometimes feeling as if it’s me against everybody else; all due to one of the most prevalent topics in the world: politics. With both of my parents being immigrants from Poland, the views held in their country were, in a sense, too strongly developed for them to change their ideology after arriving in America.
Being a republican country, Poland normalized the concept of discrimination against many groups for a majority of the citizens that were raised there, especially in the late 1900s. Though, for me, it seems that remaining oblivious of politics throughout a majority of my life was a good strategy, that is until I reached eighth grade. I vividly remember speculating about Donald Trump’s election in 2016 as well as the rise of his opinions based on gender and race. All I could remember thinking is, why? Why would anybody be so harsh on other human beings? Why does he so outwardly say such negative opinions? It was as if I was seeing America for the first time, but through an entirely different lens.
As my eyes opened I began to look around and realize that even the people in my own home seemed to agree with his views. That day I delved into the topic of politics, finally researching it and getting up to speed with what others had realized years ago. That day, I can proudly say, led me to begin developing my views on the world- that of everyone deserving equality- and becoming an activist to use my voice and advocate for that which I believe, regardless of what I had been raised hearing.
Although, getting here has been difficult. Outwardly disagreeing with those in my household resulted in a tense and divided environment, with many claims about me “not knowing what I’m talking about'' or that I “will realize what’s right eventually”. However, I chose to ignore it, risking my familial relationship, for something that I knew needed my attention. Beginning freshman year of high school, I began to seek out any opportunity for me to aid my community, as those around me weren’t. I signed up to be a member of a wide range of clubs in my school, including the Red Cross Youth Council, the Environmental Protection Initiative, Amnesty International, and I even became a lifeguard. All based on the same ideology of helping, whether it be helping the earth or others, at least I was finally given the opportunity to help in any minuscule way.
From then on whenever I had time, I worked to volunteer or contribute my ideas and ultimately spread awareness of the infinite issues of this world. The fact that my parents didn’t, and still don’t, particularly approve of my actions certainly makes being an activist difficult, especially as an adolescent who relies so heavily on the adults in her life. Yet, I don't regret it for a second. The fact that I am working to inform others, and helping to make my school a safer place for anyone makes it all worth it.
I know that many people are afraid and apprehensive of standing up for what they believe in, especially to their parents, but I personally don’t doubt for a second that it was all worth it. No matter what your beliefs are, and regardless of your age or any other superficial factors, you have the capability of speaking out if you so wish to do so. I was raised by parents whose beliefs were completely inconsistent to my own, having all odds against my favor yet I branched out and defined one of the most important factors of my character today.