Dear President Obama,

It’s been over a week now since you’ve left office, and I really don’t know what to say. I’m speechless. Things have changed so quickly that I feel I’ve gotten whiplash, and it’s terrifying. Lots of people are scared, and we don’t know what to do. But if we work together and stay strong, we can keep fighting for what we really believe in.

Amidst all of this tension, I wanted to thank you.

I grew up under your presidency. I turned twelve the day you took your first oath, sixteen on your second. I remember listening to your first Inaugural Address and being completely floored at how calm you were, how composed. Nothing ruffled you, and when you spoke of the changes you had planned, the ideas you wanted to bring to fruition with such passion, I sat there on my couch, one hundred percent enraptured, and I suddenly knew everything was going to be all right.

I trusted you, and for eight years, everything was all right. You were funny, you were fresh, you laughed at yourself (Thanks, Obama!), and you certainly made for some pretty great memes. You made mistakes, sure, but you owned up to them, and in my young and very impressionable eyes, that was the greatest thing anyone—politician, celebrity, writer, doctor, president— could do. It still is. To me, you are still the same man that you were when you came into office—a little more seasoned in the battle that is politics, maybe, but still the same nonetheless. With you, I felt safe in my love for my country, I felt safe as a female, I felt safe in my education, and I felt safe knowing that my friends and family who were in minority groups weren’t going to be left behind. Your anthem of change was moving the country forward, and it was wonderful.

And then the campaigns started, and I remember thinking, “Trump’s not a threat. He’s not a politician. There’s no way he could win.”

I didn’t think I’d be eating my own words eighteen months later.

On November 8th, I watched the election results come in. I’d made sure to be at the polls right when they opened, as a mixture of panic and adrenaline rushed through my veins. My thoughts were, “There’s no way he could win,” early in the day, only to switch to something seriously profanity-laced and heartbreaking hours later.

The next day, my face sticky with tears, I struggled to go to class. What was the point? Everything you had worked for to make this country safe for all of the people who wanted to be here was circling down the drain. It felt hopeless.

But I thought more about who you were, and what you’d overcome, and what you would say to me and my fellow Hillary supporters who were crushed and lost and heartbroken and scared for the future.

You’d tell us to get back up, get our education, and change the world.

You were the change we needed after President George W. Bush left, and in being president, you gave all of us young constituents the ideas and the hope to change the world. You made us brave and gave us hope, and I can’t thank you enough for it.

I hope you’re enjoying your time away from the pressures of the presidency. Lord knows you deserve it. I’m not sure if my letter accomplished my mission of thanks thoroughly enough, but I wanted to be sure you’d get your dues. Give credit where credit is due, and all that.

Thank you for your service, and thank you for the hope.

You’re right. Yes, we can.

Sincerely,

An Aspiring World-Changer