How To Cope With What Just Happened

by Cate Carrejo

Well, it actually happened. Approximately 17 months of fear and anxiety have become real, and Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States. For millions, maybe billions, of people both here and around the world, this is a terrifying prospect, and the weight of what may happen under his leadership is debilitating. But if you remain incapacitated by that fear, then he wins all over again. How do you cope with a Trump presidency? By spending each day of the next four years working to bring him down.

If you belong to any of the various groups that Trump has degraded and demeaned over that last year and a half, the world might feel like it's falling apart. Trust me, I know what you're going through. I'm a Mexican-American woman who struggles with body image issues. Trump's repeated attacks on my ethnicity, gender, and physical appearance have significantly impacted my mental health and self-esteem over the last 17 months. It was insulting and hurtful enough that a large segment of the country thought him worthy of a presidential nomination, but now he's been elected as president-elect.

That decision signals to me that many of my fellow citizens either actively hate me or didn't care enough to step up and define the United States as a nation that will not stand for that kind of disrespect, and it's a lot harder to love this country now that it has let this happen.

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But this is what power looks like when it's being lost. Trump is the result of a reactionary fear of a changing status quo, one that's changing to make minorities and women more equal. Several states are now "majority-minority", meaning there are more ethnic minorities than white people, and the whole country is projected to achieve that status by 2044. Women attain higher education more often than men, and will soon be more equally represented in positions of power across many industries. The average American woman is now a size 16, and fuller figured women are more visible and celebrated than ever before.

Women and minorities are slowly but surely becoming the ones in charge and no longer have to make excuses for their existence. That progress is inexorable and, though those who allowed Trump to be elected into office don't want to believe it, it's necessary.

The best thing to take your mind off of the potential political and emotional disaster of the next four years is to work to make sure it never happens again. There are a million different ways to change the mindset and political landscape that contributed to Trump's election. Here's just a few.

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As a society, the United States allowed Trump to happen, and now you have to work to correct that injustice. Who knows what the country will look like now that Trump is the president-elect. His words and actions could legitimize and legalize a new era of ethnic and gender discrimination in this country. But you can help combat that by working against him and all the hate he supports and engenders.

What the country needs more than anything is to come together. People need to find compassion and acceptance in their hearts for others who are not like them, whether the difference is their skin tone, their gender, or their political ideology. Americans need to recognize this wakeup call and realize that hate does not define this nation — you can and should work to be a part of that.