When I was in fourth grade, my dad decided to run for Congress. He is a Democrat.

To understand the gravity of this last statement, one must understand the environment I come from. We live in Texas, one of the most conservative  states in the country. On top of that, my siblings and I attended a private religious school. Every year around election time we voted as a school. As fourth graders have not established their own political values, we voted in line with our parents. For anyone who has ever attended a private religious school deep in the heart of Texas, the fact that I was only one of a few kids with a Democratic parent should shock no one.

Not only was my dad Democratic, but he was also vocal about it. I guess you’d have to be if you were planning on running for Congress.

I hated conflict as a child and nothing says conflict quite like politics. I spent the majority of middle school and high school completely avoiding all political conflict. In fact, the only times I spoke up were to speak out against students who decided to voice the very biased and unstable opinion that the Democratic Party was made up of communists who wanted to run the country into the ground.

Ironically, all of that has changed in college. I am known amongst my friends for my liberal mindset, much to the dismay of my mother and the pride of my father. I charge towards conflict and I hope to be involved in the political system one day. Call it God having a sense of humor or me coming into my birthright, but the political system is one of my favorite things about the world.

Even before I loved politics, voting was not a question in my family. Whether you loved the election or hated it, you voted. If anything was a birthright, that was it. Loving politics now, I see voting as even more important for a lot of reasons – especially in this election.

The first reason is a very personal one to me. I am a woman. And whether or not I support Hillary Clinton, as a woman who is interested in a political career, it is inspiring for me to see a woman running for president. My youngest sister is 11. As an 11 year-old girl, she is going to see a woman running for president. Representation is so important, and I’m happy that this historical moment is something my sisters and I will live through. With Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, I am reminded that only a 100 years ago, women weren’t even allowed to vote. The idea of a woman as president would have been completely ludicrous. Unfortunately, this mindset still persists within parts of our society (#repealthe19th). When I vote, regardless of who I vote for, I am reminded of the mothers, sisters, wives and female friends who came before me and made it possible for me to vote.

My vote is my way of paying homage to them.

The second reason I vote, is that I am passionate about my generation. Let’s face it, millennials are not a demographic known for voting. And the truth behind that breaks my heart, because if anyone is going to be able to change the world, it’s young people. We are the ones who will be handed this world next, and what we decide to do with it will impact those who come after us. When we decline from voting, we send the world a horrible message: we don’t care about what happens in our world or country.

The third reason I vote seems like a plain and simple one: I can.

The United States has its problems, but it is still the greatest country in the world. And as United States citizens, we have the freedom and privilege to help decide what happens in our country. Many would die for that right, and yet, when it’s freely given, many U.S. citizens don’t want it. But, countries won’t change, justice will never be seen, and peace will never be felt if a country’s people don’t raise their voices.

The best way to be heard? Vote. It’s that simple.

The two candidates may not be your favorites, but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not just about you. When we vote, we say thank you. We say that we care. We say that we love the way things are or we say that things need to change — and fast. The issue we care the most about may not seem important to those running, but surely another issue we care about is. Hopefully we see at least one candidate fighting for someone else. Maybe that person isn’t us, but maybe it’s someone who needs their attention.

Vote for them. Do it because you can, but, more importantly, do it because you should.