November 10, 2016; 5:44AM
by Benjamin Hawes
When I was twelve years old, I had a teacher whose name I cannot remember, but whose lessons I can. Every day I would walk into his classroom for fourth period world history, and listen and learn about what he had to say. To be completely honest, I thought his class was fairly boring, and I was always stumped when he asked us to work on in-class writing assignments. He would often ask us to put ourselves in the shoes of historical figures, and tell our stories through the eyes of those people. Many kids in the 7th grade had trouble with this concept, and he had a line he wanted everyone to use to help secure our historical identities. He told us that if we start by writing the words “So here I am” that the rest would pour out.
As I struggle to put into words how I am feeling after this election, as my eyes water even now as I write this very post, I feel like 24-year-old ben could use this lesson today:
So here I am. It’s 5:44am on a Thursday morning and I’m tired. I fell asleep last night so tired that I forgot to set an alarm, and I woke up in with a feeling and a need for some self care after the last two days. I’m watching one of my favorite stand-up comedy specials because it’s distracting me, and doing a morning face mask to repair my election 2016 breakout. I’m listening to a Justin Bieber song called “Life is Worth Living,” and for some reason, I have never noticed it before. It’s a cold morning.
So here I am. In a world and a country that just elected an actual racist person to be our president and I’m still letting that set in. One cringe at a time. Knowing that people I know elected someone like this for whatever reason they had. That social justice, equality, #BlackLivesMatter, immigration, schools, LGBT stuff matters to me so much and that the way people are treated under our system just doesn’t matter to some other people. I feel overly conflicted, attacked, and hurt by this and It’s hard for me to understand what happened.
So, here I am. Wondering what’s next. Trying to decide how I want to get involved. To be honest, I feel a painful split through the middle of who I am with this. Part of me believes in the “peaceful transfer of power.” Part of me wants to “help this president be successful” like Hillary and Barack say. Make friends with and enemy and call it a day. The other part of me is angry. The other part of me is fired up and ready to fight. I cannot believe that this happened, and I hate all the states that helped to fight against me. Against the people I love, the people I value. I want to stand back and look at them and say “Yeah, well fuck you too.” I’m also slow and saddened. Discouraged and down. I find myself almost speechless.
So here I am. Researching ways to handle this and take care of myself. I googled “stages of grief” yesterday because I felt like that is what was happening in my mind. There are five: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, then Acceptance. To be honest, I don’t think denial ever happened for me. Disbelief maybe, but never denial. I’d say that right now I’m lost somewhere between anger and bargaining. On a walk yesterday with a friend, I found myself saying things like “well if he doesn’t _____ then I won’t _____, but if he does ____ then I will.” That’s bargaining, right? It worries me to know that the next step will be depression because that’s not something anyone enjoys.
So here I am. With Donald Trump as our next president of the United States. Bargaining with this decision and in disbelief that I’m writing these words. This is hard today, and it’s still going to be hard tomorrow. Wanting to let friends know that I am there for me, tearing up when they say that they’re here for me. Needing a long hug that doesn’t stop. And here I am feeling like I need to be led. Like I need to be presented with options and with ideas on how to move forward. Feeling a little lost and a little hopeless. Fearful. Knowing who I am, but feeling threatened.
I want to leave you with two things today that made me laugh. Not because I think this election is a joke or that real problems don’t exist, but because I think it’s healing and healthy to laugh. Here are two pictures I found on Instagram that brought a smile to my face, and I hope they bring a smile to yours as well.
Have a great day, and remember that we’re #StrongerTogether.