My Dear Future Leader,
Yesterday, we made history together. We held hands and stepped into a voting booth together where we, as females, had the choice, the option, to choose between a man and a woman for president of the United States of America. No outcome in this monumental election will ever change that moment for us. We came. We saw. We voted. We lived a historical moment in time together.
Today though, you will awake to news that Donald Trump has been elected as the next president of the United States. You will hear things from opponents and supporters that will distress you. You will question everything that we are trying to teach you about equality when you hear others say that he is a bigot, a racist, a narcissist. You will ask me about the “wall” he said he would build. You will hear people say that Mr. Trump doesn’t respect women, or minorities, or immigrants, or disabled people. You will hear so many things that make you question the very values that we work so hard to instill in you each day. You will not feel like we are really united.
I will not let you believe that any of the negative comments that Mr. Trump has said about women are true or what you should find acceptable just because he happens to be our president. Throughout your life, you will encounter people; both men and women who shame other people, bully other people, and are just plain mean. Some of them will try and do this to you. It will hurt and you will struggle to understand the why behind their words and actions. What you shouldn’t do my sweet child, is build a wall around yourself because of what you hear or feel as a result of other’s actions. You must always believe in yourself and know you are worth it. You deserve it. You earned it. Whatever “it” is for you, it can be yours if you believe in yourself. I know it feels good when others believe in you, and it hurts when they don’t. Some things are painful and you will carry certain pain with you just as you will carry certain joy with you.
I know what it is to feel defeated, alone, and question the fairness equations in this world. When I was a little girl, slightly younger than age you are now as I write this letter to you, I lost my father, who is your grandfather. The person you are named after. The person I barely knew, and the person you never had the opportunity to know. I spent the better part of my childhood and life watching my mother struggle to support us. I questioned WHY, so many times in my life. I hated others who had more than we did. I seethed with jealousy when others made Father’s Day cards in my elementary school classroom while hot tears rolled down my face. I hated myself. I hated God. Most days, I hated everything. But in my struggles, I found friendships. I found others like me who were also struggling. I found others who were unsure of themselves, and I found others who were different than me. What I finally learned through some serious self-reflection, and some very valuable friendships and mentors was that it is ok to feel the sting of being slighted, but it’s not ok to quit. It’s not ok to never begin believing in yourself, or to stop believing in yourself. It is not to give up on hope, or faith or yourself.
What I want you to know today, and every single day in the future, is that this outcome, although not what some people were expecting, or choosing, is an opportunity for all of us. One of my favorite quotes is “Experience is hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.” This experience is a moment in time for you. Albeit a very difficult one for some to digest and live through, it is an experience. What I want you to know is that your life is a collection of experiences. What you come to believe will be based on your perspective around these experiences. Something you must always remember is that for your entire life, you will encounter people whose opinions might not match yours. Their politics might not match yours. Their religious beliefs might not be the same as yours. Their outlook on who deserves an opportunity to succeed based on skin color, gender, or ethnic background may not be what you believe. But, you must never give up and you must believe in your own potential and the potential of others. You must believe in unity.
Don’t give up on the idea that people can still work together. This can happen. It does happen. It will happen. People with differences work together everyday in this country and can continue to work together for the greater good. Do not spend your energy hating on someone else’s politics. Find a way to get involved, to make a positive difference and to move your community forward. Get involved and care enough to move your country forward.
What you will learn today is that people are reactive. Markets are reactive. Media outlets are by their very nature, reactive. After all, I am writing this letter to you as a reaction. But it’s what you do after the reaction that counts. Be proactive. Stay involved. Stay faithful, stay hopeful. Do not lose sight of what you saw yesterday which was the opportunity to choose a woman. Do not say things like “the ceiling wasn’t shattered,” because it was shattered. A woman winning the nomination was progress that some thought they would never see. That is what I want you take away from this election. Cherish your ability to make a choice, to cast your vote, to aspire and to dream. Because nothing that happened in this election will change that, unless you let it. We have not been defeated. We have been inspired. What we must do now as a country is come together so that we do not fall apart. Be bold, be brave, and please always be you.
All my love in this world and beyond,