And yet

Yesterday morning, I was so excited to be part of this historical election. I woke up ready. I was one of many voters who had no doubts that we’d be making the good kind of history. I had faith in America, in my fellow voters, in goodness. I wasn’t worried.

And then last night happened. And it kept happening. As I watched his numbers shoot up, I felt physically ill. I cried alongside family members, friends, complete strangers.

Prior to actually casting my vote for the first woman presidential nominee, I had no idea that this presidential election would affect me on such a personal level.

I kept thinking back to the 2012 election, the first one I could vote in. In that election, I simply cast my vote for Obama and let the chips fall. I barely remember it. In fact, I don’t think I even followed the results as they came in. I just waited for the final announcement because I figured it was what it was. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but I knew that it would be OK regardless of the outcome. I knew that if Obama lost to Romney, the country would still be in capable, experienced hands.

But this election was different. Each and every time I heard Donald Trump speak, my mouth was left hanging open. It was painful. But more than that, it was scary. Still, I had faith in this country to recognize him for who he was and to not elect him as president.

And yet.

Last night was the closest I have ever come to literally feeling my heart break open. As the election outcome became clear, it was like my entire sense of self just drained my body. I felt such a deep sense of shame and bewilderment toward this country.

I thought about all of my friends, the ones of a different race, the ones who may be gay or bisexual, the ones who have had abortions. I thought about bringing a child into a world where intolerance is preached so openly. I thought about explaining to that child why some people, like the leader of our country, think the color of skin defines a person, or think that one love isn’t as worthy as another, or think that a woman should not have a right to make choices about her own body.

These thoughts made me sick, and I told myself over and over that this could not possibly be the real outcome. I went to bed thinking maybe, just maybe, the remaining states would do the right thing.

And yet.

After four hours of restless sleep and a dream that the race was still undecided, I awoke to the news that our country had elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. I stared at my phone screen, willing it to be a bad dream. But it wasn’t. America had spoken, and in doing so, showed its true colors.

I truly believe we took a step backwards last night. We undid parts of what women and equal rights activists had worked so diligently to establish. We overshadowed the progress this country has made in recent years. We made a mistake.

And yet.

Life will go on. The sun will rise. The world will keep spinning. The next four years will pass. The decision has been made.

But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting. In fact, it means the opposite. We fight harder. We fight for the child whose peers bully him/her because the color of their skin is different. We fight for that woman going through hell making a decision she never wanted to have to make. We fight so people can love who they love without fear for their lives. We fight to let the goodness radiate, to make it outshine hatred.

We fight, day in and day out, to let love win.

This isn’t the end, my friends. It is the beginning of a chapter of history, one where our actions will be documented. So make those actions worth reading about. We can do so by standing tall, standing proud, standing for what we believe is right.

And we do it in a respectable manner, one that we can look back on and say, “Yes. We did everything we could, and we did it the right way.”

And that is how we win this.

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