Never Switched Sides
One woman’s story about staying true to herself despite social judgment
It’s amazing how fast our lives can change. Many of my friends who have known me over the years have seen me go through a dark night of the soul these last few months, and they are left scratching their heads wondering how, in the process, I “went from one side to the other.” Truth is, Covid was the big catalyst to my personal, spiritual, and political growth.
I was always a Democrat. After growing up in a physically abusive household with my deeply conservative, Christian stepfather, I repelled any and everything associated with God, the church, Republicans, men. I was tired of being backhanded, kicked, and choked—and then told a Bible story afterward as to why it was justified. I hated feeling voiceless and submissive, and I told myself I would never be silenced or fail to stand up for my beliefs again. I told myself I would be brave.
So naturally, I became an outspoken, opinionated Democrat. I told myself I was a Democrat because I was a woman. I told myself I was a Democrat because I was Latina. I told myself I was a Democrat because I cared for other people—unlike the Republicans I knew.
And that worked for me—right up until the world got flipped on its head.
It took a pandemic to show me that the hate and intolerance I associated with Republicans etc. was the exact same energy I had been mirroring and putting out into the world. I always disagreed, theoretically, with using sweeping generalities, yet there I was, in practice, generalizing certain types of people I didn’t know because of an ideology I assumed they had. The truth, I now see, is that hate is found on both sides of the aisle, and I was just as guilty.
I told myself I was a Democrat because I was a woman. I told myself I was a Democrat because I was Latina. I told myself I was a Democrat because I cared for other people.
My stepfather was not a representation of all Republicans/Christians/men. Of course he wasn’t. But it took me a long time to realize that—to unravel what I went through and see my blind spots. Not all people in those categories are hateful mansplainers. (After all, my own wonderful husband is a Republican who is very kind, supportive, and gentle!) My stepfather was simply not a healthy man. This truth was always waiting for me to discover, had I slowed down to see. But my own trauma had set me back and, with all the pandemic brought with it, I finally found myself being forced to pause and reflect on my life and beliefs.
In that pause, I started to notice how the news I was watching was extremely one sided, and it seemed like there was little room for nuanced conversation or debate. As a person who has always had questions, and now even more urgent ones, I needed to know why this was. I needed to know why people were being censored—what were they saying that was “not allowed“? Why was anyone who had questions in such an uncertain time immediately given the tin foil hat?
I had never noticed this before, and as a critical thinker this increasing censorship made me more curious and left me feeling like I had finally taken off a pair of rose-colored glasses. I could finally see clearly and I knew I would have to advocate for myself and do my own research to find my answers.
I liken this to the whole conundrum with the perception of the famous dress that went viral—is it blue and black, or white and gold? The very first time I saw the dress, I saw white and gold. I’m not sure what happened, but then in the same glance, the sides caved in and the dress instantly turned to blue and black. I have never been able to see white and gold again since, no matter how hard I try. This is what this quarantine-era has felt like for me, perception wise.
How could the government tell me I wasn’t essential? I am essential to my three daughters and husband. I am essential to my clients. I am essential to my small business.
With the pandemic ushering in unlawful mandates, censorship, and widespread corruption, my sense of identity was seriously jarred. As a “nonessential” worker, I was left with the government telling me I was not allowed to work. But how could the government deem I wasn’t essential? I am essential to my three daughters and husband. I am essential to my small business. I am essential to my clients.
But who was I if I agreed with someone from “that side”?
I was left relatively disturbed that I was finding myself agreeing with Republicans on more issues than I realized. As far as I could see I still had the same morals as always, so how could this happen? At the same time, I noticed that the friends I had who were always champions for tolerance, were now very intolerant of my questions, and they didn’t hold back on correcting me, belittling me, or deleting me from their lives for having an open mind and the audacity to ask questions. I felt ashamed at first that someone would think I was a bad person for my views, but I knew in my heart that being shamed into silence was not a part of my story anymore.
Lately I have been asked by several of my friends, “How did you go from this side to that side, just like that?” at a time when politics was (and still is) extremely polarizing. I get it. It seems unlikely a strong-minded, stubborn young woman would change her mind so easily, especially a person as opinionated and vocal as I had been in the past over my disdain for Republicans, and the like.
But the truth is, I never changed sides—the sides changed on me. I never changed my morals or values. My heart is the same as it has always been, championing for equality, fairness, love, and freedom from those who oppress others.
As a person who has always believed in “My Body, My Choice,” I couldn’t believe the things my supposed fellow party members were now saying, demanding, and accepting. And because I spoke my mind, I was called everything from murderer, to Trumper, to racist—all because I didn’t believe in forcing anyone to get a vaccine. Despite all these statements being untrue, they were hurtful and I found myself feeling voiceless and submissive yet again, as I did growing up. My “friends” on social media fileted me for asking questions, and it made me angry. Why could they speak their truth but I couldn’t speak mine? Why did their opinions matter but mine didn’t? I felt completely lost, silenced, and judged.
I never changed my morals or values. My heart is the same as it has always been, championing for equality, fairness, love, and freedom from those that would oppress others.
At a certain point, I knew I could not be helpful to anyone until I processed my emotions and started to work on the anger I was left with everyday. And let’s face it there was so much to be angry about: I was angry that friendships were ending, censorship was rampant, the news was biased and fraudulent, and basic rights were being limited to those who chose to remain unvaccinated.
Yet I started to realize that if I am screaming “WAKE UP!” all day to people who don’t want to hear it, I am not actually being helpful, despite my well-meaning intentions. I was literally trying to force people to build a bridge that they were not wanting to build—to see things the way I saw them.
In the end, as a person who truly has always cared about freedom, I discovered in all of this that I need to give others the freedom to disagree with me. This realization has given me so much peace and strength in my self worth. I don’t have to explain why I switched sides because, really and truly, I didn’t. The values I have today have been the same as they always have been at the core—I have not wavered.
Everyday I ask God how I can be helpful. I no longer seek to judge someone else based on their relationship with God, political affiliation, gender, life experience, or anything else. By working on my own shadows that were illuminated in the pandemic, I am now able to advocate for myself, speak my truth, defend my values for equality and freedom, and still sincerely hold a place in my heart for those who disagree with me. After all, what problems can we solve if we collaborate only with those who agree with us?
Sophia Ance is in search of truth, kindness, tolerance, and general badassery. She is a mother of three incredible daughters, wife, artist, writer, cosmetologist, and free spirit. She loves to help others uncover their power and realize their beauty through conversations and beautiful hair. Learn more at lemonlabhair.com.