I am 18 years old, and this is the first election I have voted in. The lessons I am learning are not the ones I thought I would.

In August, I started volunteering with Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership. I wanted to be involved in the political process and make my voice heard to make a positive change in this state. I thought that the lesson I would learn would be about the value of effort, the idea that hard work would pay off in a positive result for my state.

Instead, I learned that the political climate of my country is a battleground. We are divided on every issue, we are in opposition and our nation is at odds with one another. I’m not sure how to have productive dialogue on these issues because my stance is unwavering, but I think that everyone feels that way.

Perhaps this is a good lesson to learn now: How hard and how scary the world can be. I am scared for my own reproductive rights. I am scared for the future of gun violence in Maine. I am scared for the rights of black people and LGBT people and anyone who does not fit the description of Donald Trump’s version of America.

Today, I sat down in French class and my teacher got out the textbook. I told her I felt like I couldn’t focus, and she said, “We’re going to learn today, because now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to put our heads down and push right through,” and she was right. Now is the time to start pushing.

I am 18 years old, and I refuse to be complacent in the trajectory I fear this nation is on. I am 18 years old, and I am determined to start to make a change.

Althea Sellers

Portland