I recall waking up on that calm Tuesday morning feeling anxious and cautiously optimistic. Election Day had finally arrived, and like most people, I couldn’t prognosticate the outcome. Both candidates had received their fair share of criticism, and so it seemed as though it was anyone’s game.
In my mind, I endorsed Hillary Clinton. Despite all her faults and controversies, I always thought she was infinitely more qualified for the presidency than her loud-mouthed opponent.
I had become so spellbound by the discord and unpredictability of the election that I couldn’t really focus on anything else on Tuesday. I spent precious time carefully monitoring the polls instead of studying for upcoming exams, worrying about something that was beyond my control. Like many people, I watched in horror as the electoral map turned increasingly red as the night progressed. By around midnight, the results seemed clear, and so I went to bed.
I got less than two hours of sleep that night.
I spent most of the late hours of the night staring up at the ceiling in an uncomfortable daze. I felt angry, confused, disgusted and above all, scared. As an immigrant, I feared for fellow immigrants throughout the nation. I feared for the millions of people covered by the Affordable Care Act. I feared for the LGBT community, and I feared for the Muslims who are now asking themselves if they will be forced to leave the country. I couldn’t quite accept the results.
The next morning, it finally sunk in. Donald Trump is going to be our next commander-in-chief. Confounded and sleep-deprived, I went to school and saw the long faces of Hillary supporters and the contemptuously smug looks of a few Trump supporters. I wanted the day to be over already. I felt unprepared for upcoming exams and too exhausted and emotionally drained to actually study. I attempted to cope with the post-election blues by repeating the words “President-elect Trump” in my mind until I had finally had enough of it.
I went back home and played some guitar, which temporarily soothed my nerves. My mind was returning to normal. It was then that I had a sobering realization. I was letting my emotions get the best of me. For the first time in this terrible election, I was afraid. It was affecting my mood and performance and I wasn’t prepared to let that become the norm.
A Trump administration will surely affect the country, but I refuse to let it affect me.
My candidate may have lost, but I won’t let it discourage me or undermine my hopes for an inclusive America. More importantly, I won’t let it become a distraction in my life. The same idea should apply to everyone else who feels disappointed. Politics change, but life goes on. The fight for inclusivity will never end. As President Obama eloquently put it yesterday, when we lose, we “lick our wounds,” strengthen and get “back in the arena.”
These aren’t the results that everyone wanted. People who are scared have every right to be. It’s okay to cry. Grieve as you wish, but don’t give into despair. Relax by taking a walk outside. Accept the outcome and keep your chin up. Never lose sight of the bigger picture. Stand up for what you believe in and never forget who you are.
Israel Aragon is a sophomore majoring in psychology.