After reflecting on last week’s election, I am left with an overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to do now.
Many students around campus are in shock, because few of them saw this result coming. When I went to Susan B. Anthony’s grave on Tuesday afternoon, I was overwhelmed by feelings of hope and security. The people around me were talking about how proud they were to be there to celebrate another glass ceiling being shattered.
I was confident that we would elect the first woman president—confident that on Nov. 9, I would be walking on air, ready to start planning for four years of progressive change. Those feelings of happiness quickly dissipated as I watched the election results trickle in.
I was crushed, and most of the people I talked to felt the same way. I read painful post after painful post on Facebook, where people shared personal stories.
Not only was there sadness; there was fear.
This fear is important and should not be disregarded, but an effort should be made to understand why people feel this way. As they are coping with grief, working through their anger, and dealing with the reality of this situation, the big question is: What comes next?
Each person will process the results of the election differently. Some will silently grieve, some will openly cry, some will celebrate, and some will distract themselves. Even though each student reacts differently, it is important to approach one another with respect and treat each other with kindness and understanding.
It is crucial that we not trivialize the emotions of others. Instead, we have to serve as good listeners. We are one University community, and we need to stand together to form a safe community that allows each person to achieve their goals, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, immigrant status, or any other feature of their identity.
In the days after the election, I have been struggling with how to turn my anger and frustration into something productive. It is important to allow these feelings to serve as motivation to continue to stay engaged.
I am still figuring out how to channel my feelings, and it is important that people ask themselves what they will do. Whether or not the candidate you voted for won or lost, it is important to stay motivated, stay educated, and stay engaged.
Join a club on campus. Join a local or national or global organization. Get out the vote in future elections, or volunteer for a campaign. Write letters to your local, state, or national representatives. And, of course, watch the news and stay informed.
No matter how you make your voice heard, just remember to stay engaged. You are important, your voice is important, and you can make a difference.