The Only Way is Up

By Paulette Schuster (Harvard Undergraduate)

At first I was hesitant to write this. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add another election post to the Internet. I decided to write this for anyone feeling broken today. For anyone who has spent their past two days with a pit in their stomach, randomly bursting out in tears, having panic attacks, or is just plain upset. You are not alone.

When Obama won the election, my elementary school canceled class and displayed the inauguration in the Lower School Gym. My fifth-grade self was ecstatic to miss class and thrilled to see all the excitement around me, although I did not completely understand the significance as an eleven-year-old. However, I knew America did well.  I watched people around me cheer and cry as Obama took that oath. America told me that leaders are not just white men.

This time, I was the one crying. Not out of joy like the people in the gym eight years ago, but out of devastation. My sister is twelve and in sixth grade, just a little older than I was when Obama became president. This will be the president she grows up with. My sister, my best friend, and favorite person, will grow up in a country that does not value her impact because of her sex. How is she supposed to grow up to stand up for her body when the next president of the United States jokes about raping women? My sister will grow up in a country where people she knows have to live in even more fear of being torn from their families and deported, regardless of their positive contributions to society, but because of their legal status. My sister will grow up in a world where many of her friends, family, and acquaintances do not feel safe because of the color of their skin, the people that they love, or the temple in which they worship.

Being twelve, she is probably not as distraught as I am. I am empty and broken. However, I know that my sister will be okay. I know that I will be okay. Our lives will not be forever altered because of the bigotry and ignorance of others. I’m upset, but I must recognize that I am in a position of privilege.

I’m not ready to “come together as a country” or “have faith in the democratic system,” like many the Facebook posts tell me to do. This is not as if Romney or McCain were elected. My core values, the essence of my being, have been violated. Eventually I will come around, even if today is not the day. I am lucky that I will probably be able to heal. I send my love to everyone who feels they cannot do that. I send my love to everyone who Trump’s election was just another action among many that tell them that they don’t matter. You do.

I wish I could have some insight on how we can move forward. I’m terrified and devastated.  I will say this: I do not think our country has much farther to fall—the only way is up.

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