For every American who hoped that love, tolerance, and respect would prevail in the 2016 election, this outcome may feel like an electric shock — and it's understandable that many of us are having trouble coping with Trump's win. As the polls closed and the votes rolled in, we all watched with bated breath as an outcome that seemed like a gag a year and a half ago inched closer to reality. Now that the results are officially in, people within the marginalized communities that Trump often vilifies are sharing their fear, anger and sadness on social media — but they're also spreading love and solidarity.
For people of color, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, Muslims, and many, many others, today is a very hard day. This morning, my newsfeed was flooded with mixed messages — some of blind optimism, some of intense grief, some of anger, some of privileged indifference. Whatever it is that you're feeling, you can be sure of two things: you're not alone, and that it's okay to feel the way you do. There's one message I've seen, however, that may be damaging in a more subtle way: that we should all rally, stop crying, and start fighting for change.
Yes, we should all look forward to enacting change and fighting the hateful ideals that Trump has perpetuated, but this election has been stressful for most Americans, and it's unfair to tell those people how to react or how long they can grieve — in any situation. Optimism is a positive trait, and can help us see the light in dark times, but only you know how much this momentous outcome has affected you, and no one should be able to dictate how you express your emotions, nor should you let anyone guilt you into staying silent in order to make them more comfortable. Today is the culmination of over a long election season, so we all need to be respectful of one another's right to process the results in whatever way they choose.
"People will express their feelings about the election on their social network streams as a form of therapy," Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and author of relationship blog You're Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. "They are venting their fears, frustrations, anger and disappointment. We must also keep in mind that for many they are within the spectrum of grieving about their future, disappointment with their peers, or about their children’s future. A healthy approach to watching your streams today is to allow them to express their emotions and let them cope and mourn in their own way."
Every American has a different story, and it's natural that we each react to this polarizing news in different ways. While it might be easy for some to move forward optimistically, it may take some time for others to accept the outcome and move on.
"One's response is the result of one's character, personality, and learned experiences," Erika Martinez, Licensed Psychologist at Envision Wellness, tells Bustle. "Some people are (or were raised to be) optimistic, and others weren't. It's the same with embarrassing moments — some people will nervously laugh or others will blush shyly, and still others might lash out. Generally speaking, there's a great deal of mixed feelings and uncertainty about what a Trump administration might look like, and people are being reactive. It's the same reactivity that we saw during the campaign. Why? Well, to be frank, because most people don't know how to talk about these topics in healthy ways." Just because your reaction to Trump's victory looks different than someone else's — even someone whose views align with yours — doesn't mean that either of you are wrong to express your feelings a certain way. If there's one thing we all desperately need to learn from this election, it's that our differences are what makes our country so great in the first place.
All we can do today is listen to those around us — listen to their worries, their fears, their vitriol, their sadness. Help others in whatever way they need, comfort them if they're feeling overwhelmed, and be understanding of the fact that not all of America can move on from this heartbreaking election result in just one day.