I don’t remember the 2000 election. I was less than two years old, and the whole debacle went by without me batting an eye. But my mom has told me that after the results of the questionable judicial proceedings, she entered a pseudo-depression about the state of our country. When she told me this, I thought she was being dramatic; I didn’t understand how something national could so personally affect her.
But I now do. As someone who passionately followed the campaign, and foolishly convinced myself that Clinton had it in the bag, I suddenly feel incapable of getting out of bed.
This whole election has seemed like a joke. The media has treated it as such, as if the presidential campaign has become the newest reality TV show. But on Tuesday night, it became very serious. And I don’t understand how that happened. I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure it out.
How could someone who ran on a platform of xenophobia and fear have won? And yet, how could he have not? In historical context, this is not a new phenomenon. When people feel that they haven’t gotten a piece of the prosperity that is so unevenly distributed across their country, they want to blame someone and they want a quick fix. Trump promises to get back jobs and kick out all those “dangerous” minorities who are causing the perceived ruin of America.
Maybe that’s the scariest part of this election: it has proven there is no more fact-checking in politics. You can say anything you want — even if there are sources that prove you wrong, if you keep saying the same thing over and over again, the media will create a platform for you. People will believe you. People will believe anything.
Despite the sense of despair which has enveloped our campus, I decided to get out of bed on Wednesday morning and go to class. To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m doing here anymore. Two months into my college education, I’m already uncertain that what I do here can matter. I don’t know if this election and the next four years will change what I’m going to study or what I’m planning to do with my life. Everything seems a little too real now, as if our generation has the new burden of fixing a very fractured world.
I think we all need a mourning period. We can all take a week or two to give ourselves ponderous moments and feel just a little bit like the entire world is crashing in. We should use this time to reach out to each other and remember that there are good people all around us. The worst thing we can do now, however tempting it is, is to give up hope. There are a lot of things broken about this country, but that isn’t new. As the generation entering adulthood in this historic moment, we have the opportunity to change the future.
I know that this is a lot of pressure, and that a sense of responsibility to fix the seemingly unfixable can be incredibly stressful. I personally feel as if I’m not allowed to be happy or to think about anything else; yet that won’t help. We need to allow ourselves time for whatever we need to do to feel okay. I think we should laugh, cry, smile, watch Netflix, write poetry, delve into our classes, follow every New York Times article. We need to take care of ourselves and make sure that we are emotionally, physically and mentally healthy. Only then can we stand up for the causes we believe in and help put the pieces of our country back together.
Carrie Mannino is a freshman in Trumbull College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .