Like millions of us around the country, I watched in absolute horror as it became clear that Donald Trump was going to become the next President of the United States. I’d been so confident that things would go the other direction, that I’d be celebrating Hillary Clinton’s victory with my loved ones. Trump would be defeated, the threat would be over, and we’d finally shatter that glass ceiling and embrace our first female president, a woman who also happens to be the most competent and experienced person ever to run for office.
When Trump’s victory was announced, I entered into the classic 5 Stages of Grief, which consist of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and, ultimately, Acceptance.
At first I was in denial. My mind wouldn’t accept that this was happening, and I still imagined Hillary somehow pulling through. Something would turn and this nightmare would be over. We’d still be able to defeat Trump. Love had to win out over hate.
This quickly evolved into anger. Anger that millions of people around the world had voted for a cruel, narcissistic, racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, ableist bully with no political experience, no real plan for improving this country, and a rhetoric of hate and discrimination that’s shaken the entire world. I was angry at the people who didn’t get out to vote for Hillary even though they’d supported her, or at least wanted to vanquish Trump. I was angry at our system, the broken Electoral College that allowed a candidate to win even though he hadn’t gotten the popular vote.
My bargaining stage came more in the form of defeat. Is there any way I can just not wake up tomorrow? Can I move to another country? Can I stay in my room for the next four years, avoiding the internet, living in a bubble so I never actually have to face this horrible reality?
And there, the depression set in. The tears, the helplessness, and the fear of the terrifying unknown. That deep depression lasted into the next day where I moved around in a funk, avoiding social media, keeping myself busy with work and household chores. I ate junk food and watched mindless TV. I couldn’t look at the news or what anyone was saying. I knew my friends and family were grieving too, but I was afraid that adding their grief onto mine would send me over the edge. I needed space to calm down on my own.
Now that I’ve had time to process, the depression has lifted a little, enough for me to begin to engage with the world again. The next step of the 5 Stages of Grief process should be acceptance. I’m supposed to accept that Donald Trump will be our next president and begin to heal and move on.
I comprehend his victory intellectually and factually, and I will eventually come to terms with the reality of a Trump presidency. I’m not going to say or pretend that he isn’t the president. Doing that would be both petty and self-defeating.
But I will never, ever accept what Donald Trump stands for. That acceptance would mean surrendering to animosity and bias. That acceptance would make me complacent, allow me to throw my hands up and say, “I guess this is our country now. Everything we’ve fought for in the past means nothing.”
I won’t accept that, and I hope you won’t either. It will take time to grieve this loss and the future we hoped for. But eventually, we’ll all need to pick ourselves up and continue fighting however we can. There are millions of us who didn’t want this, and we still have a voice. The president is just the president. We still have power in this world, especially when we unite and work together. We’ve overcome so much in the past, and we can’t let this country slide backwards and lose the equality and rights that we’ve fought so hard for.
It will take time, and this will hurt a lot. That is something I will accept. This is a terrible setback in many ways. But I will not accept defeat. I will not accept Trump’s mission or ideologies. I will not accept that this world is broken beyond repair. That kind of acceptance is dangerous. That helplessness will keep us trapped while everything falls apart. We have to continue to choose love over hate and come together to make things better.
We need to survive.
We need to stick together.
And we need to fight.