If you asked me what my worst quality was, I would most likely immediately say my reluctance to stand up and speak for what I believe in. I am forever finding myself in situations where I really should speak up but I clam up and go silent. It could be that I'm at work and someone is saying something I know is wrong but I'm scared to challenge them. Someone could be spouting off racist, sexist or other hateful and harmful opinions and my desire to avoid confrontation means I don't voice my own opinions. I've become acutely aware of this issue recently because of the UK General Election. Whilst I have strong political opinions, I've largely refrained from even liking or retweeting those who agree with me, nevermind using my own voice during these political turbulent times. So, why am I like this?

I don't want to alienate my friends

There's people I like, people I consider my friends, who voted differently to me. I know there's people out there who would tell me to drop these people from my life or "get better friends" but it's never as easy as that is it? I worry that using my social platforms to promote my own political views would alienate people who don't feel the same way. Deep down I know this is silly, and I should stop caring what other people think of me. If people fall out with me because I want the best for the people of the UK, that's their problem. 

I'm not an expert

I'm not an expert in politics and the past few weeks I've had to learn a lot about how things work here in the UK that I wasn't really clued up on before. I'm scared that if I were to blog about things, I'd be accused of not understanding things or not knowing something important. The thing is, you don't HAVE to be an expert to vote. With that in mind, it just seems silly that I won't share my opinion on that basis.

Who am I to talk about politics?

This is similar, but ever so slightly different to the "I'm not an expert" argument. Why should people listen to me talk about my beliefs? I'm just an ordinary girl, with an ordinary life who happens to have a blog and regularly uses social media. There's far more qualified people out there, and why shouldn't I just let more intelligent, clued up people do the talking for me? But politics is for everyone. You never know who is going to stumble upon your own corner of the internet, you never know what people have already seen or not. It's time I started adding my voice to the mix. 

What if someone wants to debate with me and they bring up something I'm not aware of?

While I could quite easily sit down and write an essay on why I voted for Labour and wholeheartedly support Jeremy Corbyn if I had time and resources to hand, it's not something I could debate on the fly with anyone aggressive. Particularly on Twitter or in real life, I'm terrified of people calling me out and telling me my opinion is wrong based on obscure facts about something Corbyn said before I was even born or one single Labour MP who has problematic views. The thing is, it's impossible to remember or know everything. No matter how much research I do, there's always going to be things I don't know about or I've forgotten about and that's fine, it doesn't make my opinion less worthy. I just need to be braver and more vocal about things I DO know.

I've seen people get jumped on for the smallest of things

I'm sure you've all seen the Twitter witch hunts that occur when someone says the "wrong" thing. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, it's actually someone who has said something with the absolute best of intentions but has sadly worded it in an ever so slightly problematic way. Rather than someone privately, gently explaining the issues with what they've said, someone publicly "calls them out" and they get ripped to shreds. For me, personally, I think if you're gonna attack someone over social media, there's better people to target!

I want to live a positive life 

Talking about politics and other topics that people tend to have rather strong opinions on can sometimes be very, very negative. I don't always want to know what's going on in the news, I don't always want to think about the damage politicians are doing to the people of the UK - it can have a terrible effect on my mental health. I worry that if I were to start using my social platforms to push my opinions, they'd become a place of negativity and trolling and I don't want that. Unfortunately, life isn't always easy. It's also a sign of privilege that I can switch off from current events when I need to. Going forward, I need to find a balance between standing up for myself and what I believe in, but keeping my blog and social media as something I enjoy.

Writing down the reasons I feel afraid to speak my mind has made me realise that I am mostly just scared of what other people will think about me. I personally think this is a silly reason to keep quiet, particularly because in other countries, people can be persecuted and prosecuted for having the "wrong" opinion. One of my main goals in 2017 is to become more vocal and more courageous. I'm hoping The Glitter Vixen will soon begin to reflect these goals.