I Will Keep Loving
By Joan Milburn (Southwestern University Undergraduate)
I woke up the morning of November 9th with a sense of hopefulness. A flutter of anticipation in my chest overwhelmed me as I hoisted myself up, shaking off my grogginess. This was the first election I had ever voted in, and that in itself filled me with a sense of responsibility and gratitude. My thoughts then turned to some the most important people in my life: My LGBTQ friends who had impacted my life in the most amazing ways, my friends of all religions who had helped shape my way of thinking in the most profound sense, and my friends of all different races who have approached their lives with strength and grace. I thought about them and I smiled. Then I opened my laptop and there it was. The results.
I cannot describe the feeling that came over my body. I have never felt more trepidation, disappointment, sorrow, and anger all at once. I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed to face the day. I was also astonished, feeling like like the America I know and love had been set back decades all in one night. In that moment it seemed my world had gone eerily silent. I laid back down and processed. The “what if’s” began circulating in my head: What if the third party votes had been different and changed the outcome? What if the electoral college had it wrong? What if there was a mistake? I began thinking about myself as a woman: What if my reproductive rights are diminished? I again thought about all of those in my life who I had so much hope for. I couldn’t imagine how they felt. It was then that I felt an overwhelming call to action. I knew that asking myself these questions would accomplish nothing and that I had to completely reroute my way of thinking, as difficult as that was. The toxicity surrounding the election results were inevitable, but I had to choose not to wallow in it. I knew that if I had power to vote in this election, I had the power to act after the fact. We have a choice whether or not to let hate into ourselves, and that morning I found it so easy to hate and resent what had happened. But I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t my place to be feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I knew I needed to ground myself in strength to be strong for those who can not. I fear for my friends, I fear for us all, but that’s not going to change the outcome. Instead, love and strength are what is needed. And that goes for both sides of the election. Just because someone voted different than you doesn’t mean they deserve hate. And no matter what, I know I will continue to love and be strong for myself, my friends, and for everyone that deserves a piece of America… even when they are made to feel like they don’t.
In the words of Lin Manuel Miranda: “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.” And I will keep loving.