I was recently asked by a friend how I can so often and publicly speak up for what I believe in, particularly regarding my conservative values, despite the potential of adversity and losing friendships. When she asked me this, I was taken aback. Honestly, I hadn’t thought that my voice, just my voice, had made much of a difference in the conservative movement. I was wrong. Simply joining a few conservative organization and being brave enough to post photos of myself at nationwide conservative conferences had left a major impact on other conservatives in my community. Many of those who I impacted continued to quietly hold onto their beliefs, timid to speak out to a wider audience.

After being asked this question, I took time to reflect on what my turning point had been for me. What caused me to shake off the insecurity of being a conservative young woman on a college campus. When did I decide to boldly embrace my values in front of others? I had been targeted throughout my childhood and young adult life for believing in free markets, constitutional rights, and limited government. I had never faced much backlash for it, but that quickly changed. The apparent conflict with my peers over our differences of opinion came to a head the evening of November 8, 2016 – Election Day. After President Donald Trump had been elected the next President of the United States, I posted a video of myself dancing around my living room during his acceptance speech on my SnapChat story. What I had believed to be just another five-second blurb amidst hundreds of other election-related social media posts sparked fire in the hearts of my lifelong liberal friends. Surprisingly, I received numerous texts and posts from people along the lines of, “how dare you boast about the end of our nation right to my face”, or even, “if you are so blatantly evil as to post this video to brag, then you’re not the person I thought you were. I don’t want to be friends with someone like that”, and the real shocker that read, “You were the Distinguished Young Woman of Colorado, right? … siding with rapists doesn’t seem like a very distinguished thing to do. You should be stripped of that title, don’t you think?!” I was shocked. Simply because I favored another candidate than Hillary Clinton, I was no longer the person I had been for my entire life. That is what it seemed to my best friends on the other side of the aisle. I likely upset more than a dozen friendships that evening. It continued with many more in the days to come. I felt awful. As days continued, I felt alone, isolated, and humiliated. I was afraid to share with the world any justification for why I believed what I did. I had fear that I would lose the respect of my peers, my professors, or my employers.

Then, something small, but miraculous, began happening. After I wore a tiny “Trump” sticker on my sweater to Organic Chemistry one day, following a visit with a friend who had been giving them out, someone I had never spoken to tapped me on the shoulder and whispered quietly, “Hey, I like your sticker. It’s a shame we can’t speak up around here, huh?” His small smile said it all: I know what you’re going through. I am too, and we ought to stick together. I discovered that day that there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of students feeling the same way I had been on my campus. In fact, this was probably happening likely all across the nation. All we needed was a bit of hope. Maybe that was through someone who was brave enough to simply feel okay with who they were and what they believed. I decided that it couldn’t be too hard to embrace myself. After all, I’d been living with myself and who I was for my entire life. One election would not change who I was or my self worth.

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That’s all it took for me to become intrigued by the conservative movement. Once I felt pride in my values, my political affiliation, and my voice, things changed. I began to invest my time further in various conservative organizations that provide endless opportunities to learn more. I joined organizations like  Turning Point USA,  PragerU, and  Future Female Leaders. As I invested more in learning, I discovered that I had also been investing in myself as a leader in a movement that many right-leaning young people are afraid to embrace. It didn’t seem necessarily “brave” to attend conservative activist conferences. No, it wasn’t groundbreaking to repost a 5 minute video highlighting diversity of thought on Facebook. It wasn’t unheard of to write an article about capitalism for an established blog. These small actions directly contradict the culture of our high school and college campuses.

It is, in fact, an act of bravery to visibly and loudly stand for conservatism in a collegiate community. It’s not something to shy away from. There is a strong, inspiring, supportive community of young leaders from all across the nation who experience the same struggles, share the same victories, and support one another each and every day. Stepping into a power of leadership in the conservative movement means stepping into a family that is changing the narrative of our nation. 

It may seem daunting to share your beliefs and political affiliation with others. I promise, once you do, you’ll be happy you did. There is nothing more liberating than living as your true self and sharing who you are with others. Eventually, you’ll learn that friends will come and go. All it takes to create change in our world is to simply take a stand. Besides, you’ll never know who you may inspire to do the same.

Isabel B
Isabel is a Cabinet Member from the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado and is a proud CSU Ram. Next fall, Isabel will be attending Georgetown University to pursue her master's degree. She dreams of one day serving as the US President. She loves all things small government and second amendment, and is also a Turning Point USA Campus Coordinator and a proud member of PragerFORCE.