I'm a first-time voter. I didn't understand why people were anxious about the election until I became one of the people who participated.
For months, I've been bombarded with posts, texts, and stories about the upcoming election. I've had friends ask me who I voted for and not react the way that I expected them to. I've had people question if the way I cast my vote was justified. I've had friends vote differently than me. I've had complete strangers approach me and try to persuade me to vote for their candidate. I've questioned again and again if I voted for the right candidate — not only for myself, but for everyone.
Tonight is the culmination of the past few months for voters across the country, and I know that I'm not the only one with an anxious heart. As the polls close, we'll anxiously sit in front of our TVs and see the future unfold. We'll question what one election will mean not only for the future of our nation but for the lives of those we love. We've already cast our votes, but tonight, we have another choice — to worry or to persist. Here are 11 affirmations to tell yourself tonight, no matter the outcome.
1. I know that I've done my part.
If you cast your vote, you've done your part. Focus on what you can control. If you are nervous, fuel your energy into encouraging your friends to make it to the polls before they close. Yes, that means that you should even encourage those who might vote differently than you to vote!
Now, take the time to be kind to yourself. Do something that's good for the soul. Go for a walk, doodle, or hug a loved one.
2. I know that there are still good people in this world.
Although the winning candidate will certainly have an impact on policies and our daily lives, so will our neighbors. Put your focus on loving those around you. It's unlikely that we will interact with the president at all in our lifetime, but our interactions with our community will continue. Although it seems like one man may change everything, imagine what we could do if our whole country made a commitment to love a little bit more intentionally, reflect a little bit more, and empathize a whole lot more.
3. I will show up for my neighbors who are hurting.
My biggest fear heading into the election has been how to advocate for those who don't have a voice. I recognize my privilege. I recognize that not everyone has the opportunities that I do. I would like to think that I voted in a way that speaks up for the hurting. Even if that candidate loses, I will still speak up. Beyond the election, I will continue to empathize. I will continue to use my privilege for good. I will realize that I might never fully understand, but I will support what matters.
4. I know that hope is not lost.
The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your favorite coffee will still be at Starbucks. Your dog will still rush to the door to see you. We will still have the holiday season. We will make it through this, and when we do, I hope we realize the power of our thoughts. We will still have ourselves. We will still have each other. Make sure that you take care of yourself, too.
5. I know that I have the power to do good beyond the election.
Find what issues you are passionate about and embrace them at a local level. Don't wait for the next election to advocate for what matters. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter or domestic violence center. Take time to sign petitions and listen to different perspectives. You can't just fill in your ballot and give up.
6. I will focus on the present.
In the past few months, we've put so much of an emphasis on the future, that we've forgotten to embrace what we have now. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's been that we need to slow down and reflect. What happens tomorrow is out of our control. Rather than focusing on what is yet to come, focus on your breath. Focus on the fact that you are on this earth for a reason. Focus on the fact that your actions have power.
7. I realize that I am not responsible for other people's reactions.
I know, for a fact, that everyone does not share my political views. I know for a fact that my vote upsets some people and that it encourages others. Some may argue that you didn't vote in the way that people of your faith or age should vote. Others will argue that you are the voice of your generation or faith. Both shouldn't matter. I'm not responsible for other people's emotions, whether they are good or not, and neither are you. At the end of the day, we all need to vote in a way that we believe to be right. We need to vote and move on to loving people.
8. It is not my job to singlehandedly save the nation.
I know that this statement seems absolutely ridiculous, but the more that I think about my election anxiety, the more I've considered the root. Yes, I fully believe that everyone should vote and that everyone has a voice in this election. I understand that this could be the closest election in history. At the same time, we all need to surrender from the idea that we've somehow failed the nation if our candidate loses.
On the other hand, we need to free ourselves from pride if our candidate wins. We all need to belong to something bigger than ourselves, and sometimes, that means admitting that we can't fix everything. When we relieve ourselves from unnecessary expectations, we open ourselves up to growth.
9. I realize that it's OK not to have the answers.
The thing about humans is that we love consistency. We thrive on the idea of knowing what to expect. In situations like these, we clearly don't know the outcome. Either candidate could win. There could be riots, or there could be a peaceful transfer of power. So much of our future is unclear. At the same time, the beauty of being human is that we get can grow. We can take this time that is uncomfortable for so many of us and make it a time where we are more conscious of ourselves. We can take this time to look more closely into ourselves because if we don't understand ourselves, we can't understand each other.
10. I will choose love.
Although this affirmation may seem like a sign from TJ Maxx, there's real truth in it. Even if the candidate that I voted for doesn't win, I will choose love. I will not allow how someone voted to destroy relationships with family, friends, and peers. Yes, I absolutely believe that certain issues pertaining to human rights are non-negotiable. At the same time, I realize that surrounding myself only with like-minded people is futile. There's a reason I surround myself with the people that I do, even if we do disagree. I will stop limiting people to how they fill in a ballot. I will open myself up to entertain ideas that I don't understand. I will open myself up to relationships that will challenge me. I will open myself up to the fact that I can't vote in favor of
11. I realize that we are all in this together, not only as Americans, but as humans.
I realize that this statement seems rather odd at a time when our country is divided. Even if our country doesn't seem to have a common goal right now, know that we are all humans at our core. We all have fears, hopes, favorite snacks, and pet peeves. Although it might seem like no one can agree on anything right now, challenge yourself to truly listen and seek connections. Challenge yourself to listen to understand, not to respond. Push yourself to realize that although someone might have canceled your vote, you might still have the same favorite snack or hobby or music. Beyond who we are as Americans, we are people. We might worship or dress or believe differently, but we are all in this together. We will rise up. It will be OK.
Friends, rest in the peace that no matter what happens tonight, we will make it through. We have before, and we'll do it again. It's a promise, from one anxious voter to another. Get some rest. Take care of yourself. I'll see you on the other side.