Because Pain Demands to Be Felt

Because Pain Demands to Be Felt

My post-election thoughts sprawled onto paper, put in essay form. It was hard to find the right words, and I'm not sure I did, but it's important to share stories during this difficult time. So here is my attempt.
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I’m sitting in a cafe listening to a jazz flutist and feeding my addiction to Chewy bars. It’s essentially like a cauldron of happiness. But despite my best efforts, I can’t make the pain of what happened on Tuesday, November 8 go away. Because this election, more dramatic that The Bachelor, more confusing than quantum mechanics, with more twists and turns than Disney World’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster churned out a result that sent nearly the entire (notably pro-Hillary) WashU campus into a tailspin. Myself included.

On that night, as I watched Trump’s electoral college number go up and up as the shocking swing state controversies were decided, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I tried to deny the existence of my present reality and attempted to concentrate on the cucumbers I was somehow binge-eating. Yet when my friend came up to me and gave me a hug, I knew it was over. Trump’s victory speech, while cordial, felt like a blow to the gut. With each “Thank you” he said, I grieved for the LGBTQIA* community, for the Muslims who, the next day, would be publicly shamed in places all over the US, and for the swastika drawn on a park wall in New York with graffiti that read “Make America White Again." I grieved for women, for our economy, for our international relations, for Israel. I grieved for America, because even though the Electoral Vote made its choice, it didn't represent the plurality of Americans. As my mom asked me, “Why can’t our vote be good enough?” It’s hard to change the system though.

I’ve scrolled through Facebook post after Facebook post for days now. Some words have been filled with grief, others have urged me to move on. Some words have been celebratory, others irate, some even asked me to shame Trump supporters.

I know I can’t do that. Because Trump won this election fairly through the system that is currently in place, and as much as I disagree with his ideals and question those of the folks who voted for him, they, like me, are Americans, too. And at least they voted, unlike nearly half of America.

But despite the posts urging me to accept fate and move on, I know I’m not quite ready for that yet. To quote John Green in his masterpiece The Fault in Our Stars, “pain demands to be felt." And I sure am feeling it now. For all those overjoyed at the election results, congratulations, for those like me who are dismayed, I am sorry, and for those who are indifferent or who perhaps did not vote, I truly hope that you find a reason to care and to make your voice heard in politics because it’s important, because it affects all of us.

I went to what I thought was going to be a 2 hour vent session about the election results. Hundreds of students, parents, professors, newborns, and more from the St. Louis community gathered together on campus to express their views.

But instead of simply complaining about the outcome of the election, these incredible people instead shared their love for other people. Through song, speech, and some stellar carnations, the "love wins" theme of the gathering sent a warm ripple through the throng of people despite the chilly air. The sentiment that most resonated with me was when one student discussed that rather than ignoring the atrocities present in this election, we should recognize them and act upon them. Because even in the darkest times, there is hope.

We have to make our voices heard; it’s why I’m writing this piece. Despite this joyous/extremely difficult time, I take pride in knowing that people are able to voice their opinions and am so appreciative that I, having voted in my first presidential election, am able to share with others why telling stories DOES matter.

I know America will get through this, as we have gotten through so many tough circumstances before. It will just take time.
Cover Image Credit: Queen of Clean

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

rahma
rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

rahma
rahma

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