Thursday, November 17, 2016

How to Deal

It's been a week and some change since the 2016 US Presidential election, and it's probably not a surprise that I wasn't excited about the results. I am, specifically, sad that we have lost a potential 4+ years with HRC's experience, level-headedness, and compassion at the helm; angry at injustice in our electoral system; and fearful of the future under the new administration, especially for people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, LGBT+ folk, and the disabled, to name only a few. (If you want to learn more about why this election specifically threatens people of color and what you as a white person can do about it, this list of resources is incredible!)

These emotions are real and I want to give myself space to feel them, and to respond to them.

But alongside these feelings, I've felt despair. A sense of doom. A feeling, deeper than fear, that things will never get better and that I am helpless to stop what's coming.

For me, this emotion isn't helpful. It makes me want to roll over, to give in, to bury my head in books and TV and any other distractions. To turn the music up loud and scream "La la la, I'm not listening," so I don't have to deal with reality knocking at the door.

Because I'm fairly privileged--it's not my door that reality will come knocking on first.

But I know myself. I feel better when I make a plan. (Apparently I'm not the only one: HuffPo has a list here, as does Forbes.) What I'm doing now is thinking in circles of influence, starting with my closest circle, myself, and working outwards. The lists below represent actions I will take to help myself and others around me. And when I feel despair, I will look at this list and say "There's your action, darling: go forth."

For me, I will:
Eat and drinking healthy stuff.
Keep a regular sleep schedule.
Take medicines I have been prescribed.
Do mindfulness exercises for 5 min. each day.
Keep going to counseling.
Spend time outside 3x/week.
Figure out a helpful "social media diet" so I can find a balance between staying informed and educated, and finding hope (my friend Andrea's blog post particularly helped with the hope part).

For my household, I will:
Spend less money so we can have more in savings, in case we have an emergency.
Encourage my partner to get all his medical needs met in case ACA is overturned.
Hug and cuddle my partner and pets.

For my close friends and family, I will:
Reach out, ask how they are doing.
Listen and not dominate the conversation with my own feelings.
When changes hit them, I will support with my words, my presence, and my finances when able.
When violence threatens, I will offer safety.
Not let them off the hook when they make thoughtless or bigoted statements, but call them out with kindness, as the Southern Poverty Law Center has outlined here.
Take responsibility and apologize when I make thoughtless or bigoted statements, as Maria Dahvana Headley urges here.

For my students, I will:
Require them to respond to each other with care and kindness.
Teach them to read and consume media critically, and to express themselves with nuance and thoughtful language.
Teach every class about the bystander effect and its corollary, and how to get past it.
Continue carrying my Black Lives Matter bag to show support for my black students and raise awareness of the movement on campus.
Be a safe space, a listening ear, and an advocate for my students' concerns.

For my community, I will:
Vote in local elections.
Volunteer or donate for local campaigns I believe in.
Attend rallies for causes I believe in.
Spend my money at locally-owned establishments.
Work with my Unitarian Universalist congregation to promote inter-faith dialogue.

For the greater state/country, I will:
Volunteer or donate for campaigns and organizations I believe in (here's a list of 10 that are in particular need right now; and since the environment/climate change aren't on that list, here's a few more).
Call my representatives about issues that matter to me (check out the "We're His Problem Now" call sheet.)
Donate $5 each Friday to a cause that I care about.
Write the best damn stories, essays, and poems that I can.
Promote the voices of other writers--especially those in marginalized communities.

This is my call to action. If you're feeling scared, make a list, or borrow mine. Use what works for you, and jettison what doesn't--and feel free to share.