Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep until about three A.M. Every time I got close, I started crying again.
This was my first election as a person of voting age. I remember when I was a junior in high school, and Donald Trump started campaigning as a Presidential candidate. I laughed with my classmates. I joked about how he wouldn’t get past the first month of the campaign, let alone the primaries. I, like many, thought he was joking, too.
Then he got past the first month. Then he got past the primary. Then he got the nomination. And I got scared, and then concerned, and then terrified.
This was my first election as a person of voting age whose parents moved here from another country. My family is originally from Russia. As I type this now, I am scared to say that online. I do not know how people will respond to that today. This was my first election, and it meant something to me. It meant that either I would help to elect the most qualified person I could think of to the American presidency, a woman whom I had disagreed with in the primaries but had always respected and had come to support wholeheartedly, or that I had so much more to fear from my home than I thought I did. It meant that as an American citizen who was not born that way, and as so many other things, I could elect my safety or watch others elect everything I feared.
Do you know how much it scares me that our President thinks that he can sexually assault women without repercussions, just because he’s famous? Do you know how much it scares me that we still don’t know what he will do–we know that he’s erratic, we know that he’s unpredictable, and we know that he’s a racist endorsed by people like David Duke, but we don’t know his policies other than “we’re gonna build a wall?” Do you know that as I watched the economic fallout of Brexit in June, I hoped to every possible higher power that America would watch, learn, and vote ourselves away from disaster? Do you know that as I watch the economic fallout of Trump, I feel cheated by the country I live in? Do you know how scared I am for my future, for everyone’s future?
This was my first election. I feel punished for having had any hope.
This was my first election. I know what my country thinks of me, as a woman. I know what my country thinks of women who are qualified for their positions and dare to try to take them–this was my first election and even though I voted for the woman who was qualified, my country chose to be led by a racist, impulsive, erratic man who is entirely unequipped to handle even entering the Oval Office, let alone running the country.
This was my first election, and I feel cheated. Assuming I live that long, there will be many more to come, and what can I expect from my country in those campaigns? This was my first election, and I feel sick, and sad, and scared, for myself and for my family and for my friends and for the people I admire and respect but don’t have the courage to Tweet at. This was my first election and I am only eighteen years old and I feel so depleted.
This was my first election and I have never felt more shattered in my life.
I keep seeing Tweets about how hard we are going to have to fight to protect civil rights for anyone who isn’t a cisgender, straight, rich, white man in this country and I am so scared. I keep seeing Tweets about how hard we are going to have to fight to protect the environment from the man that I did not elect but that other people did, and I am so scared. I am sick, and sad, and scared, and I know that this has been left to me and mine. This is what you are leaving your young people, America, and we are so sick and sad and scared and cheated. I feel cheated, knowing that you are starting us off fifty years behind, and I feel cheated knowing that because I have said that, somewhere out there an older white man is shaking his head at me for expecting a good start in the first place–why don’t I just pull myself up by my bootstraps, huh? Huh?
This was my first election, and I don’t know how to function today. I will go to class, but I doubt I will learn. I keep thinking about how it’s more important than ever that, given the things I write and read, I keep doing those things, because now they are even more political than before. My breathing itself is now political–if it wasn’t already, it definitely is now. But it feels so exhausting already, to breathe when I am scared to.
This was my first election. I feel sick, and sad, and scared.