The 2016 election was rough.
People say it's in the past, get over it, move on.
They do not understand or even try to understand why it continues to impact you six months later. I was an intern with Hillary for America, and that made it hurt more.
I showed up to work the next day crying alongside everyone else in the office. We were all stunned and we hurt. We were scared for ourselves, our communities, and all the people who had reached out to us. I was scared as a female and someone with chronic health conditions, but was distraught over the impact it was going to have on all the children who wrote to Secretary Clinton.
As a correspondence intern, my amazing team and I read thousands of letters from people all across the United States, every single day. We read heart breaking letters about children who were scarred they were going to be deported back to Mexico or were afraid that their parents would be deported while they were at school. We read letters form little girls who did not like being treated poorly, and wanted Secretary Clinton to win so that they could have the same opportunities as boys. We read letters of children with disabilities who had been helped by Secretary Clinton while she was working for the Children's Defense Fund. We read letters from people who needed her help, who had benefited from her help, who needed her plans so that they could continue to live a happy life, and for some - to have a life at all.
We read the hopes, dreams, and fears of every American.
I read stories that I will remember and carry with me for the rest of my life. People have stories, and every issue has a face and a person who can represent that issue with their story. We had the opportunity to read about all of the issues facing Americans, and it was such an insightful and rewarding experience. Everyday you felt like you were doing something meaningful that was helping people - not just the campaign.
Now, six months later, the loss still hurts.
The 2014 election hurt, but it was much easier to bounce back. I was working for a Senator's congressional office while he was campaigning for reelection, which he lost. Just like for Secretary Clinton, I was in a room with other staffers watching as the results came in live via CNN. When they called the race for his opponent, we all started crying because the margin was too large for us to pull ahead. I watched him deliver his concession speech to his staffers and supporters. That election hurt because it was my first loss, but more importantly the senator sponsored a bill in honor of my grandfather and he was a champion for others like my grandfather. I felt like his loss signaled the end of my grandfather's legacy and the end of being able to help others like my grandfather. It hurt, but I was able to bounce back. As interns at the congressional office, we had to clean up the office and close out the federal cases of his constituents. We went in, we cried, but we still had work to do.
Secretary Clinton's loss, we took the first day just to grieve and be with each other.
There was much confusion over what to do next in terms of clean up. Most of us left that Friday because work was going to be handled by remaining staffers. The correspondence team had it rough post-election because we still had thousands of letters to read and sort through from people hopeful and excited for the nation's first female president.
It hurt. After all of us experienced election night in the Javits Center, we then had to read through all of the people who were counting on Secretary Clinton - letters dated before the election - including all of the children who were mortified of Trump and inspired by Secretary Clinton. We cried a lot going through the letters, and one that made me cry was just the envelope.
It was addressed to President Hillary Clinton at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The White House had forwarded the letter to the campaign. That letter hurt because I knew that that would be the last time I saw a letter addressed like that. Madam President, President Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House. It hurt. It still hurts.
You are stuck thinking how could we have changed the outcome? What more could we have done? How can we fix this? You feel guilty even though we all know we worked our asses off and left our hearts in the field and in our work.
The news is difficult.
Every time you hear about President Trump and his administration, you think about how different it would have been had she won, and you think about all of the people who are suffering because of his actions. You know that she would have worked day and night (none of this vacationing in Florida every weekend) to push for policy and work with all Americans to ensure their voices were heard, safe, and taken care of. You think about the people constantly - wishing you could help them and racking your brain because you want to help the people so much.
For the times you are brave enough to go onto Facebook or Twitter (he is all over social media and people suffering are all over social media too), you try to speak out and find protests to join, movements, actions you can do to help. You support organizations and people who continue to fight for the people. I find it hard to even look at stories on Pantsuit Nation anymore.
You are not anti-Trump - you don't particularly like him, you are pro-people.
You just want what is in the best interest of the people. Every day, the protests and petitions remind you of the election, and you are stuck trying to figure out how you can even help the people and continue to make a difference in this mess.
Hillary Clinton was a champion in our lives for years. Working for the campaign was so consuming that once it was over, you had no idea what to do with your time.
How do you continue to fight for the people when you no longer have a champion?
Hillary Clinton has not left, but she is not the sole champion anymore. This election taught me not to believe in just one champion - to believe in myself and learn to forgive the people and believe in them again.
The real champions are the people. The champions are us - those who dare
to fight again,
to see another day,
to share our story,
to feel and feel deeply,
to try again,
to know it is okay not to be okay,
to not be defined,
to be our true selves,
to make the world a better place,
to speak up,
to be kind to everyone,
to do our best -
and to change the fucking world.