I’m a 24-year-old Catholic woman and I’m voting for Donald Trump.

This morning, I woke up in an American flag hoodie with “Make American Great Again” printed across the front. I stayed in bed surfing Twitter for a while, reading the news and simultaneously reaching over to pet Howie, who was laying next to me. Donald Trump is mentioned in probably half of the tweets on my feed most of the time, but I don’t cringe at seeing his name anymore. Usually, I just keep scrolling.

Actually, I found this hoodie online while I was doing exactly this—laying in bed next to Howie, scrolling through social media. I came across a photo of Bristol Palin wearing this sweet American flag sweatshirt and immediately went on the hunt to find it. An Etsy shop out of Florida was selling them. I said to myself, “when the day comes that I make peace with having to vote for Trump, I’m buying that sweatshirt.”

And 44 days out from election day, here I am, wearing it.

It’s no secret that Donald Trump was not my first choice for president. In fact, I’ve been a real brat about it. I’ve complained, kicked and screamed, thrown an absolute tantrum over having him as our party’s nominee instead of Carly Fiorina or Marco Rubio (or anyone else for that matter). Trump has elicited more emotions from me than probably any other politician ever (except maybe Trey Radel) and when he clinched the nomination in May, I felt things that a healthy, well-adjusted person probably should not feel as a result of a political outcome. Since then, though, I’ve calmed down.

I’ve never been “never Trump.” Quite frankly, the people who’ve said they’d rather not vote than vote Trump are either 1) living outside of reality, or 2) just don’t really understand politics.

As for those “conservatives” who are voting for Hillary Clinton this cycle—good riddance to you. Your priorities clearly don’t lie with conservative values, and that’s fine. I’m glad you’re no longer pretending.

Elections are a numbers game. Behind every politician is a handful of political operatives poring over voter data, putting precinct household numbers into a calculator, and trying to devise a plan to get X number of people to show up to the polls and vote for their candidate on election day. (Where things get sticky is when these same operatives realize it’s going to cost them X number of dollars to get X number of people out to the polls—that’s when donor checkbooks come out and Americans get pissed. I digress…)

What many of us seem to be forgetting (or perhaps simply don’t realize) is that enthusiasm for the top of the ticket drives success for the rest of the ticket. This means that if voters are excited about a particular presidential candidate, they’re much more likely to show up to the polls and thereby more likely to cast a vote for other federal, state, and local candidates. These races matter just as much as the presidential race, if not more, and they’re much more likely to have a direct impact on you and on your life.

We have some absolutely incredible candidates down-ticket this election cycle. My boss is running for Congress. She’s a mom, a Christian, and is committed to improving upward mobility in this country. She’s concerned about ISIS and our national security, and has the business sense to know our economy would be better if government got out of the way. We’ve got to do our part to get candidates like her elected—and part of that requires we throw weight behind Donald Trump.

While it’s unfortunate that Trump is the face of our party this cycle, he does not define the conservative movement. Our movement is defined by the values and principles that this country was founded on—not by the ramblings of a goofy NY businessman with bad hair and a big ego. This is important, because just as Trump’s name is on the ballot on November 8, so are the values of our party. The choice at hand is much larger and bears much more weight than simply choosing one name over another.

The conservative movement has made great strides the past few cycles. With control of the House and control of the Senate, we’re set up to put our nation back on track, if only the right person is elected POTUS. Hillary Clinton is not that person. In fact, a Hillary Clinton victory will inevitably mean seceding much of the ground we’ve gained. We cannot let that happen.

Donald Trump is a far from perfect person, as is he a far from perfect candidate. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt. Politics, much like life, often requires that we bite our tongues, quit complaining, and do stuff we don’t want to do. In this instance, voting for Donald Trump falls under that category.

The Pro-Life cause knows this premise well. Time and time again, we have settled for small progress and have accepted victories that have been, on occasion, disguised as failures. In forty years since the passage of Roe v. Wade, we’ve moved the needle FAR (and won millions of hearts in the process). Success is still success, no matter the package it’s delivered in.

In an ideal world, a third party candidate would step up, rally the troops, and we’d get to watch the largest political upset in the history of our country unfold on November 8. Unfortunately, though, this is the real world, where that isn’t going to happen. It’s just not. You can “vote your conscience” ’til the cows come home, but you’ll be disappointed either way.

You don’t have to love Donald Trump to vote for him. You don’t even have to like him. But if you’re a true conservative, and you believe in the values and the principles our nation was founded on, you do have to vote for him. Other races need that momentum, and he’s our best shot at a victory—even if that victory is disguised as a failure.

Plus like, what are you holding out for, anyway? A savior? We’ve got one of those. He died on a cross.

The Time I Found Out I Have Carpal Tunnel

A few weeks ago, I noticed a tingling sensation at the tip of my thumb while I was shampooing my hair in the shower. Initially, I thought nothing of it—it was early in the morning and my hand was probably sore from sleeping on it funny. No big deal. Whatever. But when the feeling came and went over a few weeks, then became more persistent and gradually more uncomfortable, I went from totally cool, totally chill, “broke-the-same-finger-4-times-in-one-semester-and-never-did-anything-about-it” Mary Kate, to high-anxiety, freaking out, “there’s-a-chance-next-week-I-won’t-have-a-right-arm-so-I-better-make-this-week-count” Mary Kate.

First, I was sure it was a pulled muscle. Then, I thought maybe nerve damage. I had a 2-day bout with cancer before realizing it was actually brain lesions, at which point I began to mourn the loss of my forearm altogether (and wallowed in self-pity that I’d be a writer who would no longer be able to write—I’m a terrible, horrible, dramatic person, I know).

So when it became apparent I’d have a limp set of fingers hanging from my arm if I didn’t see a doctor, I gave into my parents’ requests and swung by quick care for a look.

The wait was surprisingly short, and my nurse was very sweet. She asked me to step onto the scale and I made the same dad joke I’ve made at every doctor’s appointment I’ve had for like, 7 years (“the worst is almost over!” Seriously, someone shut me up). We both laughed and I stepped off the scale, and she went into questions about my hand.

Any possible injury that you can think of? Where does it hurt? Are you taking any medications? Do you have diabetes? Do you have hypothyroidism? Do you do any street drugs? (Another bad joke—“that escalated quickly” Who do I think I am? Nurses hate me).

Then, as she typed at her computer, she asked about my work.

“I’m in political communications. I actually noticed my hand was getting worse when I was addressing envelopes the other day.”

“Oh, so you write a lot?”

This is very sweet, I thought. She’s making small talk. I like her.

“Yeah, and type a lot. Always on my phone—you know, one of those people, ha.” *facepalm*

The nurse smiled and nodded knowingly, still typing at her computer.

“You know, come to think of it, I hold my dog’s leash with this hand. Maybe he tugged too hard and that’s why my thumb is hurting?” Mary Kate, shut up.

“Maybe.” She stopped typing and stood up.

“It sounds like you might have carpal tunnel. The doctor will be just a minute and he’ll ask you a few more questions then.”

She was hardly out the door before I grabbed my phone and googled “carpal tunnel.” I became suddenly aware of how uncomfortable it was to use my thumb to scroll. I opened WebMD and read the list of related symptoms:

tingling, numbness, loss of feeling in thumb and index finger, pain in hand and wrist

And then, the causes:

repetitive movement of the thumb and index finger; typing

Oh Mary Kate, you can’t be serious, you’re thinking. You gave yourself carpal tunnel? You’re such a millennial! Always on your phone, always on social media, always on the computer… This is why young people need to get off their phones!

Yeah, yeah, alright. Hear me out.

Technology has always been sort of my thing. My parents got a computer while we were still living over by St. Francis on Whitney, and I used to spend hours upon hours playing some silly Atlas-puzzle-maze-game thing that I only remember enough to know I played it constantly.

When Windows upgraded within a few years, Nancy Drew computer games were my jam. I don’t think a natural disaster would’ve torn me away from one of these games. The world around me did not exist when I was playing them, and my family can attest to this. I’d spend days researching walkthroughs and cheat codes before I even so much as touched a new game, and the new ND game release days were like Christmas in my house. (Ironically, though, these games also totally freaked me out and consistently gave me nightmares. Basically, I’m so confused why this was ever a phase in my life. I digress…) Point being, I was obsessed.

AOL Instant Messenger took that obsession with technology to the next level when it combined the incessant computer-gaming that got me in trouble at home with the incessant mindless-chatting that got me in trouble at school. That, and Xanga (arguably my first blog? Prolific) kept me glued to an old computer chair in my mom’s home office for a scary amount of time per week. My parents were thrilled by none of this; I was too engrossed to care.

But as we all eventually did, I outgrew my dollz icon and color-coded away messages. Bigger and better things were in my future—namely, Facebook and Twitter.

Fast forward to 2016, I’ve made a reputation for myself for always having my (large) phone in my hand, sending rapid-fire texts that make The Iliad look like a bedtime story, and tweeting so much, so often (mostly about politics) that I’ve probably been muted by half the people who follow me anyway. Friends I haven’t seen in months make jokes about my long Facebook statuses and every once in a while, I’ll run into someone I hardly know who’ll say, “so… you still writing?” making it clear I’ve surpassed annoying just my own friends via social media and have moved into other circles.

I have to admit, though, that this bothers me very little. How could I ever pretend I don’t talk a lot, don’t have a lot to say, and don’t love social media at this point in my life? My mom often jokes that I “came out of the womb talking.” I literally started a blog so I could spend hours writing posts in which I’m, for all intents and purposes, talking to myself. Not to mention the fact that I’ve literally made a career out of this. So it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that I’ve now physically injured myself by texting, tweeting, posting, phone-ing.

But all that being said, I do get it. And this has prompted me to take a step back and reflect.

Technology has been a good in my life. It was something I enjoyed and was good at growing up. It gave me academic confidence in years I struggled with math and science, and has since given me a platform for my writing that, as an adult, I’m grateful for. My interest in it set me up to develop skills I never would have expected myself to, like coding and web development, and while I’m not an expert by any means, these skills have given me value in my job and it’s work I like to do.

From a personal faith perspective, I absolutely love social media. I love sharing my life with the people in my life via posts and photos, and I love interacting with other people online—even people I’ve never met. I have connected with so many wonderful, faith-filled women (I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register, which you can read here) who have played a significant role in my spiritual growth these past few years—a role that I am sure will be ongoing.

So, much good as come from this. Nevertheless, I see the bad.

Social media is a major distraction for me. It distracted me from my homework in high school (there’s an argument to be made that it actually contributed to my struggling with math and science), and distracted me from my homework in college. It has created an obsession with current events, news, and politics in me that I wholly admit broaches an unhealthy level, and that obsession does sometimes dictate my moods and demand my attention when it shouldn’t. It’s put up walls in my relationships when I’ve spent nights out with my family staring down at my phone, and I know I’ve had moments that texting has enabled me to say irresponsible things that could’ve been prevented had I simply made a call or had the conversation face-to-face. All of this, I know.

And now, social media and my cell phone have given me carpal tunnel. I am a living, breathing, millennial cliche. You may laugh.

It’s easy to blame work and say it’s in my job description to be accessible. It’s an excuse I’ve used since I graduated from college to keep my phone literally in-hand at all times, and for the most part, I’ve gotten away with it. But at what point is it too much? At what point has a line been crossed—when you find yourself in a doctor’s office, answering the question, “do you do any street drugs?” Is that the moment you need to look at your life and think, “maybe it’s time to make a change”? Lol. Probably.

The question I often ask myself in moments like this one is, “where’s the sin here?” It’s not like Moses came down the mountain and said “thou shalt not Snapchat an unhealthy number of times per day,” and yet, we still probably shouldn’t Snapchat constantly. So, what’s the sin? Where’s the line, and when did I cross it?

I’m still looking for the answer to this question. However, I do have a thought: it’s hard to live your life for God when you’re living it for the phone in your hand. It’s hard to listen for His voice when you’re listening for your text jingle or the Twitter ‘ding’ or you’re surfing Instagram memes at every idle opportunity. It’s so overused to refer to social media as “noise,” but it’s also appropriate because that’s exactly what it is—it’s noise. And every good Christian knows that where we meet God is in silence.

St. Teresa of Calcutta (OMG I love writing that!) said this: “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

So, God slapped me with carpal tunnel, and it’s funny. But I also know it means He’s calling me deeper—because He’s always calling us deeper—out of the noise, and into the silence.