We should be scared of our own potential

The thought of a school shooting has always been scary. As a young kid in a lockdown drill, no one ever announced, “Yes, I welcome a shooter! Let me fend them off. I got this.”

No, we all cowered in a corner, imagining the what ifs. Am I in the safest possible location? Who would be shot first? Me, or the girl curled up next to me?

Today, I am more terrified than ever. Yes, I will always be scared of a school shooting, but today, I am scared of our own potential. Or rather, not living up to it. For me, today’s walkout was a wakeup call.

We teens come with an agenda. And we come in numbers.

People often see these movements as good, but flawed. As well-intentioned, but not enough. Unsurprisingly, this is a mindset many students took after the walkout.

While there was a lot of chatter flying about the school, there was one question that seemed to rise above the rest: What was our purpose?

Some complained that they couldn’t hear the speakers, but I would argue that listening to speeches was not our purpose. Others argued that by walking out, we didn’t change any legislation, to which I would say that was also not our purpose. And finally, students said that the only true change we can make is with our vote, so what good does a protest do?

We come with an agenda, and we come in numbers. I believe that we marched to spread this message.

I agree that the most important change you can make is with your vote. But sometimes, people need to be inspired. These protests did not change legislation. They did not magically cause the NRA to cease to exist.

But that was not our purpose.

The purpose of the walkout was to empower our generation to be active and vote, in the hopes of voting in new politicians who are ready to make a change.

The purpose was to make each and every student scared of their own potential. Scared of their own power.

While there were critics of the walkout, those who thought it was flawed or not enough, I was still proud to see overwhelming support and participation. I can see the excitement just by scrolling through my Instagram feed, which is flooded with pictures and videos from the walkout.

The way that these images have spread across all forms of social media only emphasizes that youth have taken over this movement. As I said, we come in numbers, and so do our Snapchat stories.

While I see this social media explosion as impressive, some find it problematic. During class discussions, some of my classmates expressed their worry that people are just participating and posting on social media because it is trendy. Not because they are passionate, educated, or plan on continuing to stay active after the trend passes.

To that I say, keep posting. Keep participating. Keep sharing, retweeting, and snapping. Why are we complaining about it being trendy and cool to be active in politics? Although not everyone will be in it for the long haul, I can only hope that some of these people will stick. And there will be at least one more person who is active in politics. One more vote. Or maybe 10, or 20, or 100,000. Our numbers have only begun to grow.

There will always be more we can do. We often take steps back as we take steps forward. This walkout was imperfect, but that does not make it any less of a success. On Mar. 14, students across the country stood in solidarity with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We came in numbers, and we came with an agenda.

Our purpose? For every single person marching or supervising or watching the videos from home to be inspired by these protests. To be inspired to vote, inspired to become educated, and empowered to stay active in politics. Because there is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.

We can make a change. And it’s terrifying.