The other weekend my dad and I traveled to Clemson, where I watched my Syracuse Orange get pulverized 54-0. I left the stadium aggravated, but a few vodka sodas later and all was forgotten. After all, it was a football game and in the grand scheme of things the results didn’t have an impact on my life. My school struggles in the football department sometimes. This is nothing new.
A few days later, a man who makes me feel “less than” won the presidency. I was shocked and upset and felt betrayed by my country. This was not something a few vodka sodas would wash away, though I tried my damndest on election night. And yet in the days immediately following the election, I’ve felt that I (and other people who share my viewpoint) have been told to “get over” the results, just like I would be expected to move on after an embarrassing Syracuse football loss. My friend Lyndsay pointed out the distinction on Facebook and she’s right: “this isn’t a game that one team lost and now their fans are bitter,” she explained.
I was even more disheartened to find that some of the people closest to me actually did see it as some sort of win or lose “no crying in baseball” thing. “Nothing will change,” they said, probably trying to reassure me, “Just move on.” Believe me, I hope Trump will surprise us with his political prowess. But deep down I’m still gravely concerned, and I needed time to process my feelings.
Yet I know that I can’t spend the next four years lying in bed, driving myself crazy with my own thoughts. So what are the next steps? I’m one person. I can’t change what happened and I can’t change other people’s viewpoints, but I’ve realized there are some things I can do. If you’re finding yourself struggling right now and are looking to channel your energy in a positive way, some of these strategies might be helpful:
- Know that you’re not held to anyone else’s standards about what you’re supposed to feel: Don’t worry about whether your co-workers or Facebook friends or your parents empathize with how you’re feeling post-election. Your thoughts and concerns matter.
- Edit your life carefully: During the course of this election and in the days after it, I realized I was letting people into my life (in reality and via social media) who were becoming a drain on my energy. Even short interactions can have a major impact on your mental well-being, so be cautious about who you allow yourself to connect with. If it’s too extreme to defriend your cousin, for example, because family holidays will be awkward, remember that you can hide their posts.
- Be kind to yourself: You can pack your week so you’re out doing something every night, but don’t underestimate the importance of some time to just hang out at home. Read, watch something dumb on Netflix, catch up with a friend on the phone. It’s not being lazy; it’s good for both your physical and mental health.
- Figure out how to get involved: It’s unrealistic to think that one individual can singlehandedly impact a national policy change. But we often underestimate how much we can do on a local level. Start to volunteer. Become more aware of what’s happening with your local government. Talk to people outside of your normal social circle.
- Assume people are trying their best and, at their core, want the same things you do: I read something recently that really helped me. Though Trump supporters may have voted for a candidate drastically different than mine, at our core the vast majority of us want the same things. We want to do well at work and love our families and friends and have something to look forward to in the future. Keeping this in mind helps me feel more united with the rest of the country.
How are you feeling right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.