On June 8th at 22 years old, I cast my vote for the very first time. My voice abruptly shifted from that of one lost in a crowd to one bound by law, counted equally among others in my community – a deep pencilled cross marked in a printed box, an opinion that demanded to be heard.
In the polling booth I’d shut my eyes and tried to remember all it had taken to reach where I’d arrived. Thoughts lingered less on the stacks of forms completed and signatures practiced, of photobooth photographs taken with my tongue pressed firmly against the palate to strengthen a soft jawline, of trains boarded with good intentions of arriving on time to biometrics scans and interviews, and two grand missing from my pocket; but instead more so on the seventeen years preceding my citizenship I had spent feeling powerless. As an American citizen raised in the United Kingdom, I had never experienced the privilege of democracy first hand.