It’s been more than a week since the election that reduced the entire country to a shivering, seething pool of rage.
At this point, we’ve likely all been barked at—often on our own FB pages, including me. We’ve been told to buck up and deal with the fact that our candidate lost. Even though it’s about a lot more than that.
How are you feeling now?
We’ve had a week to endure the violent physical response to what can only be described as a kind of collective food poisoning, in which we swallowed something very bad for us and are now puking our brains out over it.
As the initial symptoms settle into a deeper, more existential ache, and we get further from November 8th and head toward uncharted and ominous waters, we think about what ELSE this means. And what, if anything, we can learn from it as people, lest we suffer a crippling cognitive dissonance.
We’ve JUST said as a nation is that it’s ok and acceptable:
To be rude and vicious, ruthless and unapologetic.
To say things and not mean them, or pretend you never said them at all.
To call people names.
To pander to applause, even if is not what you really think.
To show up without doing your homework, to not have a plan, to wing it.
To threaten anyone who disagrees with you.
To discriminate and violate.
To claim to know things you can’t possibly know.
To claim that you alone can fix it.
And that, when you do, you can win the highest seat in the land.
I don’t have kids. But if I did, I’d be hard pressed to explain why and how this happened. How can you instill in anyone—a kid, a sister, a mentee, a student, an employee—why it’s important to do more, to work harder, to be kinder, to show respect, to come prepared, to apologize for your mistakes and learn from them, to stand up for what you believe in, when we just said as a country, “It’s ok if you don’t do any of these things?”
Is there ANY good takeaway from this? Yes.
And it does not involve being a horrible person and hoping it works out if you fool enough people.
Trump is the poster child of Fake It Til You Make It. Or maybe it’s Break It Til You Make It. Either way, if we learned anything at all, it’s that working harder and being smarter or more qualified isn’t always rewarded, even when it matters most.
What this means for us is that it does not serve us one iota to be or attempt to be perfect, to wait until things are just right, to avoid standing up or saying things for fear of offending. Especially when it really, really matters.
You’ve heard that widely reported statistic about how women will apply for a job when they meet 100% of the qualifications, whereas men will apply when they meet 60%.
We already know who the most qualified candidate in this race was, and that all the qualifications in the world didn’t add up in the end. And while of course it doesn’t feel right, to many (most) of us, this applies to you. You can stop letting qualifications and perfection stand in your way, even when a tiny, insistent voice inside says, “What on god’s earth are you thinking?”
I’m guessing you don’t aspire to be like Trump in any way.
And yet, I wish I could take a tiny spiral of his DNA, modify it to remove the narcissism and hate, and use it to inoculate every woman against her own fear and self-doubt.
That way, you could stop self-censoring. Apologizing for things that don’t require it. Minimizing things that matter to you.
You could start going for things you want, even if you’re not sure you can do it or if anyone will let you try. Applying for better jobs. Asking for more money. Walking away from things that don’t feel right. Standing up for people who need it.
I struggle with this myself. It took me a week to get it together enough to write this post, even when I thought, “Oh, everyone’s already said everything, what’s the point.” I know that voice because it’s the same one that, 20 years ago, told me not to try to be a writer, because the world had enough of them. It took me a long time to shake that.
Trump may be president, but we are in charge of our decisions, of our lives, and of how this all turns out. So we need to stop worrying whether we can be enough or know enough, letting rules and requirements hold us hostage. So that we can stop all this nonsense and start running the world already.