Why I Never Want To Forget How I Felt After This Election
“Are you OK?”
That was the last text I sent to one friend Tuesday night, and the first text I received from another friend Wednesday morning.
It had been a 24-hour whirlwind that I was still feeling the effects of as I slowly pulled my shocked self out of bed for my 8 am class.
Before I go any further into the emotions me and those around me experienced on Election Day, let me preface them by telling you I'm a journalism student.
Election Day is the most exciting day of the year for me, or at least it used to be.
I had been anxiously waiting for weeks for November 8 to finally arrive.
As soon as my classes ended, I immediately rushed over to the newsroom, got my assignment and headed out to talk to voters at polling places.
It was a long (and cold) three hours, but it didn't matter, I was doing this in the name of journalism.
When the polls were about to close, I finally returned to the newsroom where I finished my work, sat and waited. I had never seen it so crowded.
There was a nervous, yet excited energy in the air. This was also the first election many of my fellow student-journalists were able to participate in.
The nervous energy didn't last very long.
As votes started to come in, the atmosphere of the newsroom changed. The laughter died down and people started to discuss the “what ifs.”
“Don't even talk about it,” one of the editors yelled out over the commotion.
The tension in the newsroom only escalated, and shortly after Trump was declared the winner of Florida, I saw the first person of the night cry.
He was a friend of mine who was a dual-citizen from Spain. His life dream was to live in the United States, and now he would have to deal with Trump as his president and his dream being crushed.
The tears quickly turned into a full-fledged panic attack and he kept uttering the words, “I'll never forgive this country for this.”
When it was clear Trump would win, I decided it was time to leave the newsroom.
The fun and games of coming up with headlines about how Clinton shattered the glass-ceiling were over.
All that was left was a room full of sad journalists who changed their focus to local elections in an effort to distract themselves.
While I wasn't crying (yet) I decided I wanted, and needed, to be around people.
I started the drive over to my friend's house when it hit me: A man who thought it was OK to sexually assault women would soon be president.
I was scared and the tears quickly started streaming down my face.
When my friend opened his front door, it was obvious he had also spent the last hour crying. I knew it was all over.
For the next few hours we sat and cried together as we watched Clinton lose state by state.
I listened to my friend through his sobs as he told me about how he feared Mike Pence would take away his rights just because of his sexuality.
What kind of world was I suddenly living in?
The next morning, campus was somber. An eerie silence washed over the student body, and it was visible many of my classmates had been crying into the early hours of the morning.
The journalism school had its own particularly eerie feel to it.
Many students were broken from being part of non-stop election coverage, and professors started cancelling classes to counsel grieving students.
But the mood of the day only stayed somber for so long because on November 9, when Hillary Clinton so bravely delivered her concession speech, I felt hope.
Twenty years from now, I know I'll be able to remember how I felt on that day.
I know I'll remember breaking down and crying with 40 of my fellow classmates when Ms. Clinton reminded all the young girls in the country of their worth.
I know I'll remember feeling the grief of letting hate win over love. I'll remember not feeling alone.
November 8 and 9 were very painful days. Maybe you're still feeling that pain, but know it won't last forever.
Let yourself grieve over what you've lost, but also let yourself heal.
Don't let what he stands for win. Our fight isn't over, it's just beginning.
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