Staggering

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Today we woke up in what felt like a new apocalyptic reality. There are new rules. The country you thought you lived in is not the one that exists. If you feel adrift and hopeless, psychology can help give structure to the immediate future – I feel strongly that some of us are in mourning, and must go through the six stages of grief.

Shock

We are numb. We can’t believe it. How can this be happening. America, what have you done. This isn’t real. Wake me up.

Believe it. We cannot be surprised. Shock is the reaction that forms out of a feeling of disbelief, leaving a feeling of being temporarily numb. It is a defense mechanism that serves to protect you from being overwhelmed. We are just now entering a world that has always been there, albeit under the surface. If thus far you have escaped the terror of violent misogyny or the gross unfairness of racial profiling, if you don’t have those stories in your family history or your friend group, count yourself either fortunate or part of the problem. The Americans who voted for this man (I cannot bring myself to type his name yet) have always been our neighbors, largely ignored. Those of us who live in liberal bubbles can’t imagine that this happened, because we’ve never been around people who dreamed of this. How many cities can you name in those middle states? I’ll tell you – it’s the cities in the blue counties and that’s it. In North Carolina, red counties are plentiful and real. They finally feel heard, and that is a powerful motivator. White supremacy in America is real. It is completely historically consistent to follow a black POTUS with an overt racist. Voting rights have been quietly gutted for years. The reasons go on.

Millions of white people kept their mouths shut, went into the booth, checked over their shoulders and voted Trump. – @scottmelker
What we are watching is the definition of sexism. A woman can be clearly more qualified and leagues ahead of the competition and STILL lose. – @ShaanMKhan
At a Trump rally in Manhattan and thousands are chanting “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back”. Disgusting. – @SRowntreeNews

Do not be shocked. If you are a young black man or a woman who has been sexually assaulted, you always knew that this was our reality. Please forgive us for not listening to you enough. Please forgive us for only now joining you in your fear.

Denial

#NotMyPresident. Election is the first step to impeachment. Let’s sue and have a recount. He didn’t win the popular vote, shouldn’t that count for something?

Denial is a defense mechanism that the individual employs to deny that a loss actually happened. The person in denial acts as though nothing has happened or denies that what she has heard is actually true. In effect, she closes her mind to what has occurred. I’m guilty of this. Trump has bragged about sexual assault and gotten away with it, even been rewarded. We’ve seen him combust over the smallest insult and frustration. Is it too much to think that he’ll self-destruct within the first few weeks or months of his presidency? It’s not impossible. But this kind of thinking keeps us stuck in this stage. We are enduring the apparent loss of our hope for the country, the hope of breaking the glass ceiling, hope for millions of minorities of all kinds.

Clinton ran the best campaign she could,but you can’t fight centuries of ingrained bigotry in 18 mths, even when you’re the best  – @MShrayber
Street vendor here just yelled, “hey guys, at least now it will be legal to grab pussy!” And high-fived a group of men who laughed. – @prachigu
I have a scarf on. Passed by someone on the platform today and he says, “Your time’s up, girlie.” – @mehreenkasana
Nebraska voted today to reinstate the death penalty. Our country is jolting backwards. – @sallykohn

Democrats grossly underestimated the racism and sexism of the American people, and the degree to which this country was full of a dark and rotten hatred. Click the links you can’t bear; read the stances of the newly elected officials. Knowledge is power, and no one ever saw an opportunity with their head in the sand.

Anger

Anger typically occurs after denial in the grief phase, although it may occur at any point during the grieving process (sound familiar?). In this phase, emotions that may have been pent up for quite some time tend to erupt, and the frustration at having little or no control over circumstances may be directed toward anyone who gets in the way. And there are a lot of people in the way. There is so much anger today: toward the Republican party, minority voters who “didn’t show up”, white voters who did, rural America, third-party voters, abstainers, other Democrats for not running, entire states, the media, toward ourselves for believing we were in the clear and not sprinting to the end. Don’t ignore anger – it either is suppressed into apathy or it balloons inside you until you shatter into a thousand pieces.

The numbers don’t lie: If you voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, you voted for Trump. You were told. Don’t ever tell yourself different. – @RachelleLefevre
Trump will be on trial for child rape in December. Pence advocates for electro shock therapy on gays. This is who you voted for. – @K_A_DD
In Michigan, Electionland received multiple reports of poll workers wrongly telling voters they needed an ID to vote. – @joelwolfram
As I’m stopped at a gas station this morning, a group of guys yell over: “Time to get out of this country, Apu!” Day 1. – @ManikRathee

Your anger is valid. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re overreacting. Christians, be especially aware of this – you will be blamed. You will be stereotyped. You will be hated. You will be told you are putting too much emphasis on politics and divisiveness; you will be boxed in with those who decided to vote for the man who is the opposite of what we believe in. I can’t think of a single worse thing for Christianity than Donald Trump as President. Don’t be silenced. Be vocal about the true meaning of your faith (peace. love. hope. acceptance. sacrifice. forgiveness.) and don’t be afraid to say yup, I am a Christian. I did not vote for this man and I am devastated too. You’re allowed to be furious. On to the next.

Bargaining

Bargaining is the desperation, the pleas. We try to make deals with God and the universe to regain what we have lost. We’re clinging to the vision of the bright future we were promised. Although this didn’t come out of nowhere, it seemed to, and that makes it worse. Hillary is not going to be our Madame President. We may blame ourselves for not canvassing, for believing the polls (how could big data, that trusty vague behemoth, ever fail?), for laughing at SNL skits instead of doing everything we could to convince our families and friends that this was serious. We may promise to get more involved in politics and become a better citizen if only, if only, if only there was some way to reverse this.

Depression

When we finally accept the inevitable and realize that our efforts of avoidance are futile, a period of depression generally sets in. It finally sinks in that we have no control in preventing the outcome, and we may turn away or pick fights with loved ones, believing that there is no one who can understand the depths of our hurt, or no one who can help us feel better. There are tears. There is the swallowing of bile and panic attacks that hit in the night, when your throat is dry and you want to wake up but you can’t. Think this sounds extreme? It’s real.

There are no winners. Half the country has openly voted for the oppression of LGBT’s, minorities’, and women’s rights. – @jillbidenveep
I just want to remind everyone that we are looking at a very close race with a presidential candidate who was endorsed by the KKK. – @RashidaJones
Never gonna forget how it feels to know my that when my country had to choose between a woman and an actual monster for president, it went  🤔 – @laura_hudson
I think knowing that everyone but straight white dudes will be in serious danger with a Trump presidency has made any/all jokes impossible. – @annetdonohue

This is truly depressing and an international tragedy. When you start imagining all the repercussions this will have for years and generations, it’s almost too much to bear. But bear it we will. We must, in order to finally reach the last stage.

Acceptance

Acceptance is within reach when we’ve learned to deal with the reality of the situation. We will have passed through some or all of the previous phases of grief, and we can now move on to taking action. Acceptance is necessary to take action. I will repeat: acceptance is necessary to take action. If we remain in any of the previous phases, we will not be as effective as we need to be. It’s day one and we have a long, difficult road ahead. Mr. Rogers said, when there’s a tragedy, look for the helpers. If any good can come out of this situation, it’s that we finally see our country for real, with all its brokenness. It is still a beautiful and wonderful place. There is kindness and hope available. It has not been handed to us so we must fight for it together. Words and actions are now more important than ever, so it’s crucial that we are intentional with our next steps.

Should President-elect Donald Trump attempt to implement his unconstitutional campaign promises, we’ll see him in court. – @ACLU
Get your IUD. If you have light periods, opt for a Paragard, which can last 10-12 years. Get your birth control that will outlast Trump. – @grimalkinrn
2018 is vital if we want to preserve whats left of our country after 2 years of Trump. VOTE IN MID TERMS – @zacksekuler
To all the little girls watching, never forget you are valuable, powerful and deserving of every opportunity in the world. – @HillaryClinton
I am not moving to Canada, not surprised by white supremacists & misogynists, and not afraid of Donald Trump. We have got to get to work. – @anildash

Action. Action is next, but not immediately. Take the time to go through the process, and in the meantime, educate yourself. Stay calm in the face of the storm; our weakness ultimately makes us stronger. There is a peace and joy available to anyone who wants it. Fear and anxiety come from not knowing what’s next, but day by day we’re going to learn. And we’re going to get organized, and we’re going to get ready, because we’re not going to let this break us. We’re not going to go back to our small lives, right? This is big, and it’s just beginning, and we need you. Don’t cheat us of your contribution; turn these feelings into actions and give us what you’ve got.

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Texas Drawl

wuaunu60vkI’ve lived in some “big” places – New York, California – and I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the largest metropolitan cities on Earth, but nothing could prepare me for my first time in Texas. I saw teenage blondes with tiny shorts and big, big hair, I ate my weight in shu mai in Houston’s sprawling Chinatown, and Joel Osteen’s gargantuan church seemed a far cry from the humble places Jesus must have preached. On a scorching Saturday my hosts (who have just recently moved to Houston) and I made the drowsy drive to the coast at Galveston, making our pilgrimage to the medical center and to the Chick-Fil-A by the boardwalk. I put my toes in the Gulf and added it to the list of Oceans I’ve Been In.

It’s difficult to start again in a new place, especially if you aren’t walking into a brand new shiny life. There’s mess, there’s moving boxes. There’s the constant low-level anxiety of having to use Google Maps just to get back to your apartment, all the missed turns and thinking you’re close to the grocery store but no, it’s really across town. Of job interviews and networking and small talk for a month straight as you vet these smiling strangers as potential new friends. But you go to an Astros game, you get a library card, you eat a damn good taco or two, and you keep on.

And if it’s still really difficult, you can read a book about it. Back to Durham (and home) for me.

 

Rome

I was lucky enough to travel to Rome recently, and it was an eye-opener. America has its problems, but logistically, we’re doing a good job. There were lovely cathedrals and more exquisite pasta places than I could count, but I cannot express to you how difficult it was to buy a train ticket. Countries have personalities – the US is the type-A oldest sibling who overachieves and gets result at any cost, maybe sacrificing character and integrity along the way. Italy is the youngest child, getting out of scrapes with a wink and a smile, not caring about what’s on their resume or what college they go to. As with everything, there are benefits to both personalities, but they may scuffle at the dinner table.

Level

hod6txkzwfThe deeper I get into election chatter on the internet, the more America seems like a bloated blimp, lumbering toward some sort of finish line that never appears. Our systems are broken and outdated, people are suffering, and suffering can either lead to rising above the melée or to bitterness. Bitterness is how we end up with the current political state of affairs. I just imagine Abraham Lincoln shaking his head.

But individual people have not changed. They want to do good, they’re starting their businesses with good intentions and cups overflowing with hope. They want their children to do well in schools that have enough resources, with a diverse group of friends and the possibility of great success if they work hard. That dream, which I was lucky enough to grow up with, is still not available to everyone. We have so much work to do.

At the end of the day, the President’s job is mostly far removed from us. He or she will deal with situations we’ll never know about, and sometimes the effects trickle down to us in the form of university tuition, gas prices and who can use which bathroom (are we really still talking about this?). Threatening to move to Canada is not going to work – those who are levelheaded and committed to justice and equality must stay and get their hands dirty, like they’ve always done. Well-behaved women rarely make history, but every day we can write history in our own communities, with our own neighbors, and in our own families. Use your hands to lift instead of push away.

The Cult of Being Busy

byhqakmrunHere’s a conversation I have almost every day of my life:

Me: Hey! How’s it going?

Everyone: It’s going. Haha.

Every single time. It’s a common response because it’s effortless: you’re not really asking, so I’m not really answering. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t always have the time to sit down with this person and really listen to what’s going on with them, because I’m so busy too! Always doing the very next thing, which seems like The Most Important Thing.

But am I really busy? I’ve decided that I’m really not. What masquerades as busyness is just a combination of my own laziness, procrastinating, and love for social activity. I have long stretches of wasting time on the internet: Facebook stalking, reading about celebrity breakups, online shopping, you name it. I often do these things in class, when I’m supposed to be listening, thereby making me feel later like I don’t understand anything and forcing me to do some serious cramming. Cramming = busy! I have to study, I’m so busy! It’s my own fault.

I’m not referring to the people who are ACTUALLY busy: those working two jobs, working while in school, parenting. I can’t pretend to know what that’s like, but put your mental health first every once in awhile. At Berkeley I was fiercely protective of my downtime. I never took the maximum number of units, I exercised every day, I used the hours between classes to eat lunch, do the crossword, journal, just lie in the sun. I didn’t have a smartphone. I didn’t take my laptop with me to campus. Now I can see that I have new emails at literally any hour of the day or night, I can scroll through Instagram before bed, ARGH IT’S TERRIBLE. Why do I do this. Our over-reliance on social media is for another day though…

The problem is, this is unacceptable now. Everyone knows I could respond to their email on my phone, so they expect me to. If I don’t take my laptop to class, I’ll miss out on parts of the lecture. If I don’t go on Facebook, I’ll miss out on someone’s engagement or birthday and if I don’t like their post, they’ll put me on their blacklist. Why isn’t the world more conducive to not being busy? Why do we wear it like a badge of honor?

I just read this great article on how we’re all killing ourselves by being too busy, how we don’t even know how we feel anymore. It takes time and courage to explore the dark corners of our hearts, and if we’re so busy that we collapse exhausted into bed each night, there’s no opportunity and no emotional sustenance to even go there. It makes for shallow friendships, difficult romantic relationships and a spiritual dead zone. I know it’s not good for me and it’s probably bad for you, too.

Even the simple act of blogging has fallen by the wayside because I tell myself I don’t have time. In middle school we all had blogs (maybe one day if I’m feeling brave, I’ll link to my old Xanga). We wanted to share with each other and even if it was morbid curiosity, we cared about what everyone else was going through. It helped us feel like a community. I’m trying to do my part to get that back in grad school, but it’s a battle. I live for the days where I get to take walks and just sit and talk. It feels luxurious and like I’m investing in a real relationship. I am determined to continue the pursuit of not being busy… let’s see how it goes.

Piggybacking

0sjlzhnf2nThere’s been a lot lately about how schools don’t take care of introverts. And why should they? Schools are trying to create leaders, and leaders don’t have to go home after a long day and unwind alone. Or do they?

As an introvert I can say that most of my days are filled with so much mental stimulation that it’s exhausting. There’s always music, there’s always talking. Usually I like it, I like seeing my friends in the grad lounge, I like carpooling, I like that interaction between classes. But in class, I miss lectures. There is a culture of interruption in each of my classes – to be heard, you have to interject, cut someone off, be aggressive. There is no listening because each person is thinking of the next thing that needs to be said and there’s a race to see who can say it first (don’t even get me started on participation points).

I need quiet. I don’t do my best thinking when I’m in a classroom, in fact I often need to write things down before I think they’re true. I am not outnumbered, yet as an introvert I am ignored. I’ve learned to live with it, but it costs me precious time with friends when I decide my brain is too worn out to go out on a Saturday night. I choose my interactions carefully now; I wish I wasn’t such a slave to my daily routine, but it’s the only way to build in recharge time. Quiet, blessed quiet has come to be the most luxurious part of my day.

Patterns

fqb0vm8hydThe hardest part of anything is just getting started, just sitting down to do it. Why do we come up with a million and one reasons to never start? Fear of failure, perfectionism, bad timing, lack of talent, we give it so many names to justify it. And then we see a painting that hangs in a museum and think with excessive amounts of snark, I could paint that.

But you didn’t. You didn’t! And you’re right, it’s not very good! It’s just a bunch of lines on a canvas. But people still sit on those weird round couches in front of these paintings for hours, because it makes them feel something. It isn’t the lines that make them feel; it’s true that anyone could have painted that. What you’re looking at, what you needed a ticket to see, is not the actual paint, but the guts it took to start that work of art. You’re paying to see a glimpse of bravery.