Today has been a heavy one for many of us coming to grips with the results of this historic election. As a 26-year-old Muslim-American woman, I feel particularly empty today as I try to rationalize what happened and imagine the changes ahead. I could lie and tell you I'm not disappointed, but the reality is that I am, and I might be for some time, and that's OK.
As the polls were closing across the country last night, I went through a roller coaster of emotions: I was anxious, stressed, scared, shocked, in denial, and ultimately disappointed. Today, I woke up in mourning. I feel a sense of loss and am surprised at the profound impact this election is having on me. Many of my Muslim-American friends share my sentiments, which I'm sure many other voters who turned out for Hillary can relate to.
I was born and raised in Sugar Land, TX, as the daughter of immigrant parents from Pakistan. I'm grateful that my parents ingrained in me a set of values that have absolutely impacted the the way I vote. The first president I ever had the privilege of voting for was an African-American man, and the experience was as momentous for my 18-year-old self as I'm sure it was for many first-generation kids, immigrants, and people of color. For me, President Barack Obama represented the idea that different is good, different is progress. Now, I find myself fearful of the dialogue that has opened across the nation and slightly scared that our freedom is forever impacted. I'm sad for my home, and I'm sad that my country of birth has become so divided in the past year that it has brought out the ugliness on both sides. Above all, I'm nervous for the climate of this country and the uncertainty about the direction it's going to go in the next four years.
That said, I am coming to the realization that we cannot change the results, that we must accept this outcome and push forward. I am reminded that, above all, we share a common trait: humanity. Although it is hard, I am also hopeful, because I have had many friends, family, and co-workers from all backgrounds express love and offer words of kindness. I am incredibly proud today to work at POPSUGAR, a place where the cofounders and numerous individuals in senior-level positions have sent emails to all, offering words of support, encouraging positivity, and reminding us that this environment is a safe place for all. I am blessed to work at a company and live in a city like New York where my beliefs are respected and not shunned, even if they are not shared — which is the hope I have for this country.
Today may seem very dark to many of us, but I do believe in this beautiful country and the people that call it home. I will continue to fight against hate in a peaceful way, I will continue to spread a message of love over fear, and I will continue to focus on the fact that we are absolutely and undoubtedly stronger together. I will focus on making this country better for our children. As President Obama so eloquently pointed out, "Don't lose hope and don't get cynical — you can always make a difference."
I leave with you words from one of my favorite poets, Iain S. Thomas: "Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."