Nov. 9 is going to be the toughest day that many of us face. Attempting to go back to work, to get normal things done, to not cry when a friendly face asks how your morning is all a little more difficult now that Donald Trump has been elected president. Xenophobic, racist, sexist rhetoric won in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and that is a sobering conclusion to a vicious election cycle. It's also a call to action, to keep our heads held high and continue to fight for the values we hold dear — inclusiveness, equality, respect, feminism, kindness. But if you need to cry before you put on that metaphorical armor, go ahead. And don't you dare think for a second that it makes you weak.
If you do carry that fear of appearing weak, don't fret. You're certainly not alone. A 2015 study found that one in four millennials, ages 13-34 (compared to one in 10 people over age 55) feel that crying is a sign of weakness, according to The Guardian. It's understandable to feel that way, or to feel uncomfortable bursting into tears on a subway platform, but you can change the way you see your own tears.
And if you look closely at what just happened in this country, grieving over the results of the election is not only OK, it's necessary. Making sure you take time to feel that heartbreak is key to moving forward. Your tears are actually a powerful tool and the pain that prompts them is what will help us continue to fight for progress — it's what makes the need to continue the fight feel so real. And if that's not quite enough for you, there's some science to back it up. Keep in mind some studies have shown that crying may have the power to relieve stress and improve a person's mood and that some research suggests crying may actually give you endorphins, which you'll definitely need to continue to fight the patriarchy and its ugly siblings for the next four years.
Still, it's hard not to feel defeated.
And this is where I admit that the headline at the top of this article is as much for me as it is for you. I sat down to write this piece after stopping around the corner for a cup of coffee in my Brooklyn neighborhood this morning, where I promptly broke into tears upon running into a friend whose only inquiry was, "How you doing this morning?" I'm generally a brave face sort of person. I know that, relatively speaking, my life is pretty easy and without too many obstacles. I don't have an excuse not to soldier through. But on Nov. 8, the results of the presidential election broke me. I cried on the floor of my apartment. I cried to my roommate. My other roommate. My computer. My roommate's dog. And on one hand, it feels wrong to weep when it's so clearly time to buck up and be strong.
On the other, I know that this moment of grief is necessary. And as President Obama said in his speech on Wednesday morning, regarding Hillary Clinton's devastating loss, "We lick our wounds. We brush ourselves off. We get back in the arena."
The first step in the President's equation is acknowledging that we have those wounds and that they need healing. So today, or tomorrow, or next week, if you find yourself needing to cry or scream or wring your hair, don't punish yourself. Know that those emotions are what will keep us going as we embark on this new era of the United States. One that will need our strength, and our tears, more than ever.