After the Inauguration I must admit I felt much calmer than I anticipated. It pales in comparison to the emotions I felt the morning after Election Day however; I woke up that morning with fingers crossed that the bad dream was over and I could stop worrying.
IPhone notifications told me differently and I’m not ashamed to admit that my next move was to break down and cry.
Now before you label me a ‘sore loser’ I’d like to explain why I cried and it’s not simply because my candidate lost.
I cried because I know what it’s like to be followed by a strange man at night - and in broad daylight;
I cried because I’ve been the one told “oh girls can’t do that”;
I cried because I like having control over my body;
I cried because it’s a scary world being a woman sometimes;
I cried because I knew in that moment that America voted to keep it just as scary.
Then I wiped away those tears, got up, got ready, and went to work.
It’s just what you do right? The election was over. The results were in. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t giving up hope.
In my 25 years I’ve had the privilege to live a lot of lives. I lived a happy childhood in a lower-middle class New Jersey family. I lived a surreal life at a wealthy university in Connecticut. I’ve lived the working poor life as a grad student in Boston, working three jobs and going to classes to pay the bills. And now I’m living the lower-middle class, massively indebted young adult just trying to find solid ground life. It’s these experiences that led me to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th .
In this election, the biggest issue for me was the preservation of access to healthcare for the American people. The Affordable Care Act, in my eyes, is one of the most important pieces of legislation to become law in this country. It shocks me to look to our neighbors worldwide and see even the most remote of places ensuring that their people have access to health care – regardless of employment status or income. Hillary Clinton vowed to work with Congress to make improvements to the ACA, because it’s certainly not perfect (and I would never claim that it was), but it’s the best starting point we’ve ever had. The Republican candidates never once proposed working to improve the system. They talked about repealing without any solid replacement. How could I support that? I’ve seen firsthand how deferring healthcare can be so detrimental to a person, their family and friends, and society. Healthcare is a human right, and I felt that Hillary Clinton was the candidate who would work to conserve that right. I know what it’s like to wonder how you’re going to pay for health insurance. I’m still wondering that question now as I face my 26th birthday soon and have to opt into my own plan – but I know that I’m lucky enough to have been able to get on my feet before another financial burden brings me down.
That glass ceiling just hangs so high. I’m going to take a moment to just tell a short story about why that glass ceiling means so much to me. When I was a little girl I found out that George Washington and I share the same birthday. In my kid mind that meant I got to run around and tell people that I was going to be President one day! “Girls can’t be President Sam”. Well. Dreams crushed. From then on I ran around telling people that I was going to the first female President, because I shared a birthday with the first male President. Okay, back to 2016. Here was a woman breaking down barriers at every corner, telling little girls everywhere that their classmates were wrong and girls can be President. But instead, we’ve ended up with a man who conveys to our young girls that boys can say what they please about their bodies because it’s just “locker room talk” and that female newscasters can’t be partial because of their menstrual cycle, and that women should have no control over their bodies. And that hurts because I know what it’s like to be that little girl with her dreams crushed.
On Inauguration Day, I felt calm. I felt calm because I have great faith that the American people will not let this incoming administration break down the strides we’ve made as a country. We will not allow people to rip apart at the seams a healthcare law that has saved lives. We will not allow the work on the advancement of women to be undone. This election has played with my emotions, but has also reignited the urgency to advocate for myself and others. I’ve had to work hard for things my entire life, why stop now?