In the heat of the summer, the word refreshing may allude to a cold drink, some ice cream, or a swim. But if you were to ask me, the most refreshing moment of my summer thus far has been the NeW National Conference, the largest gathering of conservative women in Washington, DC.

Before hearing from professionals and leaders in the conservative movement, students participated in a group activity. The prompt: work in groups to write an issue campaign on one of the following topics: social security, criminal justice, higher education, or free speech. In 30 minutes, we had to make an action plan, deciding who our allies would be, who would oppose us, and how we would combat the problem. At first, I was not looking forward to this activity at all. Suddenly, however, I felt flooded with relief. The young women sitting next to me were not going to ignore everything I had to say, as I’m so used to in the classroom. We all shared the same values. Being openly conservative is so taboo for me as a female college student that I was genuinely shocked to find like-minded women my age. Among them, I could express my opinion on these issues without being shut down or considered as having an illegitimate opinion.

Between the bias of pop culture and the media, liberal thought seems to be the “norm.” This exclusion of intellectual diversity is giving millennials the impression that they have no choice when it comes to their political and social views. During her keynote address, Karin Agness, President and Founder of the Network of enlightened Women, noted that we were in an environment where we no longer had to fear being put down for our views. Moreover, she encouraged us to “have some discussion and debates. We can handle it as women.”

Today, the Left preaches so often of inclusion, and yet I have felt alone and judged for my personal beliefs. The National Conference was my first-ever exposure to such a large group of like-minded young women. I met ladies from across the country who agreed with me on a wide array of topics from capitalism to free speech.

Generation Opportunity Spokeswoman Patrice Lee said that she, “[loves] listening to people justify what they believe [and] why people’s opinions matter to them.” By respecting the views of others, we can find that balance between voicing our own beliefs and respecting those of others.

A great portion of the National Conference was dedicated to encouraging young, right-of-center women to speak their minds and to shrink the gender gap in the conservative movement. Attendees heard from great conservative speakers, such as Kat Timpf, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, and Mona Charen. Katie Pavlich, Fox News panelist and Townhall Magazine contributing editor, encouraged all of the young women in the room to learn how to express their views on controversial issues. She and other speakers emphasized the need for serious self-expression and cogent writing. RNC TV director Anna Sugg relayed a similar message encouraging well-reasoned argumentation: “Everything [the Left does] has to be good, but everything that we do has to be perfect.”

This empowering event opened the conversation to further discuss social and political issues from a conservative standpoint. As a college student, I have been inspired to defend my views so that we can start tackling the issues.

Being a conservative woman is okay. Thanks to NeW, I know that I am not alone.