Yesterday, I voted in the Presidential election. This isn’t a political blog and I don’t intend for it to become one. Regular health and fitness content will resume tomorrow. But, I hope you’ll finish reading this because what’s happening in our country tonight is bigger than my vote or your vote. It’s bigger than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or even Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. I couldn’t let this moment pass without sharing a few post-election thoughts. Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a political blog. But, it is often a place where I share what’s on my heart and tonight, my heart is heavy.
It was not even a hundred years ago that women didn’t have the right to vote. Yet, yesterday, I voted for a woman to be President of the United States. That’s not why I voted for her, simply on the basis that she’s a woman, but the historical importance of this election overwhelmed me as I got into my car after casting my vote. I teared up.
I was awake to watch the results roll in until around 1am. Finally, I threw in the towel. The results were at a standstill and exhaustion won. When I woke up a few hours later, I strayed from my usual routines and immediately checked my phone to find out what happened after my head hit the pillow.
Today, it’s November 9, 2016. The world woke up to a reality of President-Elect Donald Trump.
I teared up, once again.
This was not how things were supposed to go.
But, here we are.
I’ve spent most of the day trying to process my thoughts and emotions, for they are many. For what I’m about to say, call me naive. Call me a bleeding heart liberal. Call me stupid. I’ve heard it all. But, like millions of people around the country tonight, I am trying to understand what this election means for our country, for our future. I still can’t quite fully wrap my head around it. But, what I know is that when I need to process, I write. My hope in sharing this is that it can give hope to someone.
What hurts my heart is not as much that Hillary Clinton won’t be our next President. Obviously, that’s what I wanted based on my vote. I believed she was the best candidate on the ballot, but I understand she wasn’t perfect. For those that point out her shortcomings, please find me a candidate without any. I’m not here to justify my vote, to explain my reasoning. But, that was my vote. But, my broken heart runs deeper.
Today, my heart breaks for the hate and the anger that is palpable right now.
My heart breaks as we stand on the precipice of uncertainty.
At the prospect of washing away progress in terms of social justice and equality.
For a country soon to be led by a man who fueled his campaign saying things that should never be okay to be said.
To be clear, I believe that Clinton supporters are not innocent in this rhetoric either. I’ve heard vile things from some Democratic friends about Trump’s supporters in the last 48 hours. On both sides, I believe such hateful comments are coming from a loud minority of people, but it’s still happening. The overwhelming hateful energy that permeates our country crushes my spirit and my unfailing belief in the innate good of people. May we begin to seek to understand where we each come from, entering into these conversations from a place of grace and unity.
At the end of the day, I cling to the hope that LOVE WINS. On both sides of the aisle, today and for the last two years, we’ve heard a lot of very hateful rhetoric. It must stop if we want any hope of a better future. I think, at the end of the day, that’s what we all want. A better, stronger America. A better, stronger world. We may have different ideals about how to get there, but I believe that end goal is what unites us all.
I have to hope that is true. Today, that hope is what keeps me going.
The polarized nature of our country must change if we want to secure a better future, for ourselves and for future generations. People are scared for the next four years, at minimum. No matter who had won this election, that would remain the same. We can’t be this polarized and not have fear that our beliefs and values are going to be taken away from us.
So, I say this.
For the LGBTQ community, the African American community the Muslim community, and for everyone feeling marginalized and scared for their future, I’m so sorry. Please know you are loved and important and valued. I don’t know what the future holds for you, or for any of us, but please know this much is true. If you feel like nobody is listening, please reach out. I want to hear your story. I want to walk with you.
For everyone who battles a substance abuse addition, please stay strong and resist the urge to fall off the wagon. I promise you, that drink isn’t worth it tonight.
For everyone feeling alone or suicidal, you are not alone. Your life has value. You are important. Your story isn’t over.
So, where to do we go from here?
We can remain divided or we can decide to come together. We can continue to perpetuate hate and anger or we can choose love. Now, more than ever, we can create the country we want, but we must be willing to work and to sacrifice. We are a very divided country right now and we must find a way to work together for true progress. It will be a series of two steps forward, one (or ten) steps back. We must be willing to listen, to compromise.
If we want change, it must start with us. We cannot ask more of our elected leaders if we aren’t also willing to do more. So, I encourage you to smile at the stranger you pass on the street and be patient with your fellow drivers during your morning commute. Small actions may not seem like much, but we must find a way forward.
If we want change, it must start with us. Use your voice to make a difference in the issues you are most passionate about. We cannot wait for others to take action. It must start with us. I am ready to stand up for what I believe to be true and right. No longer am I willing to sit and wait for change to happen. I am inspired to be a voice for change in this world, to defend the causes that make my heart beat.
If we want change, it must start with us. We must be willing to have hard conversations with those we don’t agree with. Although changing someone’s mind is extraordinarily unlikely, please seek to understand. Listening is powerful. Compassion is powerful. Grace is powerful.
So, may we find a way to come together and fight for our future. And may we always remember and fight to live a life that represents the simple truth that LOVE WINS.