I was 18 when I first heard someone refer to “the myth of the perfect moment.” Meaning that while many of us wait for the perfect moment to confront a friend about a conflict, to ask someone on a date, or to quit a well-paying job to pursue what we really love… there is no perfect moment. At some point, you just have to do it. When and where is up to you, but it’s never going to be perfect.
Some of you may remember that two years ago, I forced myself to do a “30 Day Writing Challenge.” For thirty days, I wrote a blog every single day. Some of them were pretty good. A lot of them were really random. It’s hard to think of something blog-worthy to write about for 30 days straight…
That was two years ago.
And guess how long I waited after the writing challenge to write again?
Yep, you guessed it. Two years. I was waiting for the perfect moment.
Today is not the perfect moment for me to start writing again.
Today was SUPPOSED to be the perfect moment. Yesterday, I voted in the presidential election for the first time. As I cast my ballot, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. I had no idea it would affect me so much. But, the realization that millions of Americans and I had the opportunity to cast our vote for a woman–as a major party candidate–to hold what is arguably the most powerful position in the world impacted me at my core in a way that is impossible to fully describe, but I will do my best.
It made me want to hold my head up high. It made me want to hope for more for my life, for my career, for what I can accomplish. It made me want to stop averting eye contact when I’m walking on the streets, and apologizing when someone else bumps into me, and smiling even when I’m in a bad mood, and all the other subtle things women do that unintentionally validate our role as second class citizens.
It made me want to stop believing it’s my fault for being out too late at night when a man makes a crass comment at me. It made me want to stop keeping my opinion to myself, and believing that what I have to say doesn’t matter as much as what my male counterparts have to say.
It made me want to stop believing the lie that I’m not as qualified and capable as I really am. Because that’s what it is–its a lie.
Yesterday, I felt empowered in a way that I didn’t even know I needed. I felt like if Hillary can do it, I can do it. If she can stay strong through years of unfair scrutiny and inflated expectations because of her gender, and attain the most powerful position in the world, then I have no excuses anymore. I get to be strong, too. I have to be.
The problem is… so much of what I felt was dependent on the assumption that she would win. I assumed she would win. I knew she would. Didn’t a lot of us?
If the opportunity to vote for a female candidate impacted me in an intense way, the result of the election has had an equal and opposite effect. All of that wanting to live with my head held high and believe in more for myself–it feels like a cruel joke. It feels as if the result of this election confirms my greatest fears. That when I asked, “America, are you with me? Are you with us? Do we stand together in supporting women as equal citizens? Together, do we stand against the hateful and derogatory speech and treatment of not just women, but minorities, LGBTQ+, immigrants, muslims, jews and disabled people?”
And from America, came a resounding, “NO!”
I’ve waited two years for the perfect moment to start writing again. And I’m not going to get that perfect moment. The events of the last 24 hours have shown me that. In fact, the events of the last twenty four hours have had me curled up in the fetal position, bawling my eyes out and living off of chocolate covered pretzels because I feel so defeated that I just don’t know what to do.
I no longer know how to hold my head high in a world that has specifically told me to put it back down.
So. Now what?
Since the world is not going to give me the perfect moment, I’m going to choose it for myself. For Hillary, for myself, and for all the other women who’ve fought hard to make progress that the world is denying right now, I’m going to hold my head high anyway. It’s not going to be easy, since my pride has been severely damaged. But I’m going to try, and I really can’t do it alone.
Will you please join me? Women? Men? Good people of the world? Together, can we hold our heads high anyway? Can we stand up for what’s right, and advocate for those whose livelihood is under attack right now? Already, I see awful stories of minorities being shamed and told to “go back to their country” by hate-filled people who feel empowered to come out of the woodwork because of the result of this election.
But let’s not hide. Let US be ones that come out of the woodwork. When they say they’re going to build a wall, or that it’s “just locker room talk,” or that muslims don’t have just as much of a right to be here as everyone else… let us respond. Let us hold our heads high. Let us make eye contact. Let us NOT smile and pretend to be in a good mood, because you know what, maybe we just need to be angry.
Together, let us respond with a resounding, “NO!”
We have to make that perfect moment today. Together, we just have to. Because otherwise, it will never come. And I am not going to be okay with that.