The election is over, and Donald Trump will be our President. For some of us, those are the worst words we ever heard and ones we never expected to. For others, even if this is an outcome we hoped for, this has been a draining election season, leaving many of us with collateral damage in our own lives.
In any case, as many observed late last night, the sun did come up this morning, and now we are all left wondering where we go from here. I believe it is time to move forward. 318 plus million people (the United States population) is a force to be reckoned with. We can make a difference, and we can influence the next four years. Here's how:
1. Cut the hyperbole. Thankfully, our founders were really smart, and they built the foundation for a great nation, with many checks and balances. Also, beyond that, WE are the nation, so the only reason to "fear for the nation" is because you have no faith in yourself. My mother used to say, "What is is," and it's true. Lamenting isn't going to change the outcome or move us forward, so give it a rest.
2. Mend Fences. Whether you buy it or not, if you're like me, and you stayed up all night, you heard Trump say it this morning. "Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division; we have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people." Healing the nation is a pretty tall order, and it's only possible (if at all), if we each take it, one person at a time. I know too many people who aren't talking to family members and/or friends right now. If that's you too, fix it. Remember, you can't control what anyone else does, and you may be rebuffed, but someone has to make the first move. Make it you. This is your best course for getting out of the cycle of negativity.
3. Park your social media game - Along those same lines, the time for waging war on Facebook and other social media is over. Chances are you convinced no one, and if you didn't change their minds before, it isn't happening now either. Back to WE are the nation. Insulting, belittling, bullying and attacking - if that's our ground game, then maybe we do need to fear for the nation. Let's not let that happen. Time to go back to posting photos of your lunch...seriously!
4. Be gracious. Our advice for social media stands for hand to hand, face to face combat as well. Ask yourself really, what is the point of asking someone, "What kind of a self respecting woman are you to have voted for Trump?" or "Do you understand what it means for women to have this man as president?" You do not have to host a victory party. You do not have to pretend to be happy. However, we do need to get back to respecting one another. Those who do not share your politics are not per se idiots. Assuming they are will stop us dead in our tracks from moving forward in a way that drives positive change.
5. Do Something. One of the best things about this election regardless of the outcome is the way in which it brought women together to advocate for ourselves. Let's not let that change. Whether it's advocating for women in politics, fighting for reproductive rights, raising awareness about sexual assault on campus and striking down rape culture, or fighting for pay parity, find that thing about which you are passionate and get involved. Nothing about this election has stopped you from being a powerful advocate for yourself and all women. The only thing that can stop that is you. Don't let it. Find your on campus club, the organization that speaks to you, or start one. In the words of Hillary Clinton this morning, "Never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it." Want some help? She's Fit To Lead is here for you, and happy to get involved.
6. Do More. If we have learned anything, it is that Americans are hungry for change. However, not everyone's definition of change is the same. What is the change you want - as a woman, as a student (remember those loans?), or as someone beginning your career? Once you have found that answer, find a way to use your voice to make it happen. One thing is for sure, the best way to ensure that nothing ever happens is to not even try.
Let's be clear. I'm not telling you to be happy (or to be unhappy, if this is indeed your candidate). What I'm saying is there is a way for us all to get to a positive place, if we get engaged and do it together.
We are a great nation. Let's not forget that, and let's work together to do even more!