Why Did We Wake Up Sad on Wednesday Morning?

It’s been almost two weeks now, so it’s time to move on. We had the presidential election on Tuesday, November 8th and I this date will cut a deep mark on America’s body and psyche. What happened? Donald Trump won – and to say that many people didn’t expect it at all would be an understatement. Most people here in NYC, were just devastated.

I watched the results with my friends. We gathered together, had pizza and booze (a lot of booze), we started off cheerful and excited and the more we watched, the more our spirits, like the spirits of the majority of New Yorkers, were plummeting. At some point, it felt very much like watching a funeral. Even though that night turned into be the saddest party I’ve ever attended, I was really grateful that I experienced it with my friends and not by myself. We really did feel “stronger together” that night.

I left my friend’s apartment around midnight, still not knowing the results for sure, but with the strong fear inside that it could really happen. I usually don’t have to get up early in the morning, but I had to on Wednesday. I woke up at 7 AM and immediately reached out for my phone. And that was it. I didn’t even want to get up. I know I’ve been living here for only 3 years and I’m Polish, not American, but that morning I felt like someone close to me just died.

In order to understand my reaction, you have to comprehend why me, or other people who chose this country, felt like they didn’t want to get up the next morning. And it’s not, as you can think because Hillary lost. It’s because Donald Trump won. We came to this country, not in search for dollars; we were inspired by America and we believed that this country is all about freedom. That it is accepting, it loves diversity and it promises you to respect you and your values, no matter who you are. This is why we fell in love with this country in the first place. And this man – now president-elect – just simply is the opposite of what we cherish so much about this place. The American flag for us, immigrants, serves as a powerful symbol of tolerance. And since I’ve lived here around 5 years in total, I know that America is not as tolerant as people usually assume – but it’s still much better than what I’ve experienced in many other countries, including the one I was born in. 

That’s why we were sincerely grieving on Wednesday. My 8 AM subway ride, in a train filled with people, felt like time spent inside a tomb. People were numb. No one was talking, the silence was killing us. It was raining that day in NYC, so even weather seemed to align with our state of mind. We didn’t even want to talk to each other. Hadn’t we have to work, most of us would have stayed at home that day, I’m not exaggerating. NY was steeped in sadness that day. At the end of it, after we finally understood what just happened, we decided that we let ourselves grieve that day, but tomorrow is a new day and we’ll wake up fighting. We will be fighting for ourselves: for who we are, for our dreams, for our community, and for tolerance. Electing Donald Trump brought fear, but it also brought this sense of togetherness – that we have to stick together and not let anyone tell us who we are and where we belong.

My friends are ashamed that Trump is their president; they said that they’re embarrassed enough when George W. Bush was in office. But I strongly believe that we can survive this storm too – and hopefully, America, once it becomes Trump-less, will be great again.

It’s been over a week now. There is still this sadness hanging in the air, people have been protesting the whole week, every day there is at least one group protesting in the city, there are “Not my president” fliers all over the city, but we’re slowly getting out of the shock and are trying to move on. What can you do? You just have to continue to dream big. This is your responsibility right now.