Be the President of Your Life

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis

Today’s blogging prompt for NaBloPoMo asked:  What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

I’ve been thinking about that question all day. What are my thoughts? Not the thoughts of the news anchors, TV pundits and bloggers who have been discussing the election ad nausem for the past few months. I have free cable where I’m staying and I’m afraid to turn on the TV right now. The campaign commercials, the smear ads – they’re all just a bit much in these final weeks of the “race.”

At 29, I’ve only had a few opportunities to vote in a Presidential election since I turned 18. I wasn’t even able to vote in 2000 because my 18th birthday fell in December of that year and of course, the election was in November. Each time I vote, I learn a little more about the process and how to find out where the candidates really stand on the issues that matter to me. It turns out that the super-sized focus we place on voting for a President every four years is disproportionate to the effect our votes truly have on the outcome. Not to say that our votes don’t matter – they do. Just not as much as we’d like them to. (Obviously, local elections count much more as the results can have an immediate effect on your community.)

Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to vote absentee in Virginia, so I’ll be toughing it out at the polls tomorrow. I’ll be voting for Obama just like I did in 2008, not out of some fierce blind loyalty to Barack the man, but because I agree with most (not all) of his values and policies. I wouldn’t even think about voting for Mitt Romney, but for a while I did consider voting for a third-party candidate. Ultimately, I would love to see a system where Americans have a louder voice in the process and a real choice of more than two parties. I can’t stand the “us vs. them” rhetoric. It makes me sick. I’m not voting Democrat. I’m voting for the continued progress that I hope will happen under another four years of Obama.

But I’m not all up in arms about it. It doesn’t make sense to be. If Romney “wins,” my quality of life could eventually be diminished as a black woman, but for the most part, MY day to day life will look pretty much the same under either candidate.

It’s interesting how so many people get hysterical about voting. Come hell or high water, we’ll cast our ballot for an election that only happens once every four years, while our personal affairs remain in shambles. Do I think voting for Obama will fix my life? Nah. Not even Iyanla Vanzant can do that. We have to be the President of our own lives – to participate fully in the change we want to see.

Tomorrow’s election is a big deal, but I’m actually more interested in what happens on November 7.

Will we start to make courageous decisions to improve our own lives? Will we begin treating each other better? Will we commit to playing an active role in our communities on a regular basis?

Will you stand in line three hours to vote and continue to neglect your own dreams? Will you watch the nonstop election coverage on TV, yet refuse to do just one thing to advance your career or heal your relationships? Will you get up at 5:00am to make it to the polls but won’t wake up a little earlier every day to work on your side hustle?

No President can or will dramatically change your life – you have to do that yourself. Obama is not making sure my consulting business is successful or paying any of my bills. He’s not walking beside me to make sure I exercise and make healthy choices. And he’s definitely not helping me find a man.

What I want for election day is for everyone in the U.S. to vote, not necessarily to elect Obama but to preserve the right to be heard in the political process.

But more than that, I want people to see that who you choose to lead your country is important, but not as important as who you choose to lead your life.

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  1. I found myself nodding along to this, but it’s the end that made me simply sit and stare at my screen, my eyes welling up, betraying my desire to be stoic at work. You are so right. We may be voting for a ruler of our country, but the minutiae of our lives he will not be in control of. He cannot hand us a better job; we have to fight for it. He cannot make Wells Fargo provide us a mortgage modification; we have to deserve it (and then actually pay the bill regularly to not get in the same situation again — NOTE TO SELF). President Obama (nor anyone else) is going to make me stop drinking Pepsi, pay the water bill instead of buy shoes, get to work on time, choose celery for a midday snack over Skittles, or set fire to the Department of Education burning down all records of defaulted student loans. Oh, wait. Um…never mind that last one.

    It’s all on me. Likewise, no one is going to make me write. I have to want it. I have to do it. The zeal with which I fight writing or fight going to yoga class or choose to have a drink knowing I’m just going to pass out on the sofa would be so much better used toward things I actually want. I’m trying to hold onto that, until November 7th and beyond. (See also: LIFE BE HARD, YO).

  2. On the Metro this morning I was thinking about blogging about the Presidential Elections and thought I had nothing to add to the conversation. After reading your piece I realize that I am short changing myself by not saying what I am thinking.

    I’m may use this prompt today but definitely before this month is done.

    • Ladylittlefoot, there is always something to add to every convesation. Even when you agree with everything someone has written or said, you are unique; you are you. There isn’t one other person in the world who thinks just like you or words something just the way you would, so say it the way only you know how (and usually there is at least one thing another person hasn’t thought about/said that you can bring to the table in a whole new, meaningful way.) Go write, girl.

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