(This is my own experience. I understand that many factors contribute to people’s political beliefs and decisions, and I won’t judge you if you vote(d) for or support(ed) Trump, though I disagree. More on that at the end.)
I feel like it was more of an important historical event than I realized at the time in 2016. I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I am getting scared that it will happen again. There were some other stressful things going on in my life at that time, and I am scared that they will happen again, too. Almost like it’s a mini trauma anniversary.
In 2016 I was a senior in high school. I was 18, finally an adult. I was applying to colleges, and it was a very stressful process. The early application / early decision deadline was Nov. 1. My mom wanted me to apply to a certain school. I didn’t want to apply, and hadn’t done enough on my application. It felt like I was boxed in by what my mom wanted me to do. She sometimes wouldn’t let me hang out with my friends or go to sports practice (essential self care things) because I was behind on my applications. It felt like she was controlling my time and life. I made plans to run away from home. I applied to work at a place that would offer me housing as part of the job.
I ended up sticking it out, staying at home. I submitted my application to the school. I submitted it past the midnight deadline, but the website didn’t stop me, so I guess it was allowed. It was a bad application. I ended up getting rejected from that school.
While this was going on, we were having our roof repaired. But it rained before the seal was put on properly. The roof got wet and soggy, and someone’s foot fell through when he stepped on it. There were big gaping holes in the ceiling in my room, and my mattress got wet. I essentially moved out of my room and was sleeping in a different part of our house for a few weeks.
The application deadline was Nov. 1. A few days later was election day. I voted for the first time. It was fun. I got a sticker.
In school, I was taking AP US Government and Politics. We talked about the election in class a lot. On election night, as a “special treat,” our class had an election night party. We got on two busses, one “Trump” bus and one “Hillary” bus. We went somewhere to eat dinner and watch the results roll in on TV. My teacher gave us each a large map of the US, and we colored in the states red or blue as they were decided.
I remember leaving the main room and going out to the hallway. I found two other people. We cried.
I remember going back in, listening to some of my classmates celebrate when Trump won states. Feeling disgusted.
I remember going back out to the hallway, crying in silence. I got out my colored pencils and tried to color something.
It was meant to be a party, a treat, exciting. But it was so upsetting and shocking. It was a weird atmosphere.
Eventually it was time to leave. We left in a rush. My teacher didn’t collect the red and blue markers he had given us, so I grabbed a bunch so that they wouldn’t be thrown out. I still have them.
I got back on the “Hillary” bus. It was quiet and sad. I wondered what was happening on the “Trump” bus. I asked my teacher, who I trust and respect a lot to this day, what this meant. “What’s going to happen now? What will we do?” For the first time, he didn’t know.
I got home; the election wasn’t decided for sure yet, but I went to bed.
I woke up in the morning in this unfamiliar room on an unfamiliar bed and saw my friend’s snapchat story, captioned “Waking up to a different country.”
These are the memories that stick with me. I think I also just don’t like October in general — some bad (medical and family) stuff happened one October. And I don’t like the gory Halloween decorations. And this is when it gets dark outside.
It all combines together into a not-great feeling.
This November, I’m a senior again, now a senior in college. Thinking about graduation and my next steps again. But I’m still living at home (because of online school). Still feeling trapped within these walls with my family. Still fantasizing about running away. I’m still in touch with that friend and that teacher. Trump is still president.
Of course, a lot of other things have changed, too. I’ve been to college, lived in a city, made new friends, decided to major in mechanical engineering. I went to a partial hospital program, started DBT, did Prolonged Exposure to trauma, and got more open with my friends and family about my mental health. I started this blog! I’m more sure of myself. I’m more informed about the news and social justice. I’ve lived through a pandemic. I’ve managed health insurance. I’ve lost my uncle and grandmother, and developed a string of unresolved physical health problems.
These are good ways to remind myself that this is not 2016, even if some things are similar. “That was then, this is now.” Things change for better and for worse in four years.
(If you are eligible to vote in the US and have not voted yet, please vote! Your vote matters, even if you live in a solidly “blue” or “red” state. Check out this video with 10 reasons to vote right now and look at Vote.org to find your polling place, ballot dropbox location, etc. If you’ve already voted, yay! And if you aren’t eligible to vote in the US, hi! What are politics like where you are?)
If you’re undecided on who to vote for in the presidential election or any other election, vote411.org has unbiased information on candidates. You can also check out candidates’ websites (just google their name and the position they’re running for). Their websites should tell you something about their goals, policies, and ideals.
Personally, I voted for Joe Biden for President. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Biden’s website describes what he plans to do in the next four years. Trump’s website does not contain any plans for the next four years. It only lists what he has already accomplished. I think that a President or anyone running for any office should have a plan for what they want to do.
- I like Biden’s environment and climate policies. Like a lot of millennials, I think that Climate Change is the #1 problem in the world right now. I care about it because it will make every other problem — poverty, famine, drought, injustice, natural disasters, war, even pandemics — worse. Biden has plans (see website) to create lots of new Green Jobs. He cares about Environmental Justice. He wants the US to have a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.
- Instead of modeling how to be safe during a pandemic by wearing a mask, Trump has encouraged dangerous practices and put people in danger. Trump’s rallies have been Covid “super-spreader” events that have gotten many people sick. This is the opposite of what I want from a president.
- Biden would give federal money to schools so that they have the resources (like face masks and money to improve ventilation systems) to reopen safely. This would meet the need for safety from Covid, the need for social connection, and the need for money to make it happen.
- Trump has divided the country, but Biden wants to reunite it. The last question of the final Presidential debate was “What would you say during your inaugural address to people who didn’t vote for you?” Trump answered the question by attacking Biden. Biden said, “I’m an American president. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me. I’m going to make sure you’re represented.” I think that Trump would continue to polarize the country, and I think that Biden would help to unify it.
- I really like Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate and potential Vice President. I watched her in the Vice Presidential debate, and she was confident, firm, and factual. She didn’t talk over Mike Pence. If she can keep a debate calm and not resort to hostility, maybe she can do something to keep the country calm.
- This is why I voted for Biden for President. There are other reasons, too, but I don’t want to list them all. I am happy to discuss this respectfully in the comments if you want to.
As a break from all this… here’s a nice video/song with pretty scenery. 🙂 I hope you’re doing alright. ❤