I'm going to try my best to not make this political, even though it is indeed about the Presidential election.

I voted for Hillary. Not just because of her policies, though they were a significant factor. Not just because she's a woman, though that did influence me a bit; to know that I was finally represented in a position of power was a heady thought. Not just because I loathe Donald Trump, though I do. No, I voted for Hillary because I refuse to buy into the rhetoric of hate that has filled this election cycle.

I am devastated over the implications of this election. As a woman, it's demoralizing to see Hillary lose to someone who is grossly unqualified for this position. It makes me wonder how I, as a woman who wants a career in a male-dominated industry, am ever going to have a fair chance; will I always have to fight against my gender in order to succeed? Am I going to have to eventually deny myself the womanhood I love so much in order to pursue the profession I love so much? Am I going to be stuck at the same paradox Hillary is--being seen as cold for having my emotions in check, but also as being a "hysterical woman" if I follow my heart? 

As a person, it's heartbreaking to see hate win. Because it did. Paint it however you want to in order to make yourself feel better, but hate won last night. I am not going to sit here and say that she's a good person, nor will I say that Trump is a bad person. I know where I stand personally, and that's enough. I'm not here to tear someone down in order to build someone else up. I'm satisfied with the choice I made, and that's enough for me.

Because I refuse to hate. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the history of our nation in order to "make America great again." I refuse to forget that this nation has been built on the hatred of anyone who looks different. I refuse to forget that I did not have the right to vote until the 1920s, or that black women couldn't vote until much later. I will remember those who came before me and fought the good fight; I will do my best to take up that mantle and do the same. I will not be complacent. I will harness every bit of power I possess and use it to radiate love.

Hating is easy. It's so, so damn easy to look at someone else and see the differences and let that take root in my heart and spoil it. I will not succumb to that, though. It takes so much power to radiate love, to see differences and celebrate them. I don't want to project the worst parts of me out for all the world to view at their leisure. Instead, I want to dig down to the parts of me that make things grow and reflect them into reality and see the world thrive. I will be powerful enough to choose love.

Donald Trump may turn out to be a good president. All of the negative, hateful, hurtful words and actions of his campaign may have just been a gimmick to get votes. The fact that it worked, though, is what concerns me. The manner in which people use their power, their platforms, their voices, is very important. I cannot overlook or ignore the way Trump used his, even if his actions do not echo it. I cannot ignore the fact that he spewed hatred and ugliness onto the masses and it succeeded. I cannot turn a blind eye to my gut feeling that I'm witnessing the worst qualities America has to offer.

But I'm also witnessing the best qualities in America, leaving me in a weird state of cognitive dissonance. I'm seeing young people use their anger and their sadness to create beautiful things instead of tearing something down. I'm seeing support and love outpouring into marginalized communities from so many people who never showed it before. I'm witnessing history, and even if the big picture is a bit of a mess, there is still something to be proud of. Even if it's not everything, it's something. A small step is still a step in the right direction. 

I am devastated, but I'm not hopeless. I am surrounded by people like me--idealistic revolutionaries who refuse to fall prey to the hatred that threatens to succumb us. I still believe that I can change the world; I'm just starting to realize that maybe I'll have to settle for small changes. Being blue in an overwhelmingly red state is difficult, but I won't become jaded. I believe in the power of democracy, in its inherent good, even when it doesn't turn out the way I want it to. I will not swallow down my values just because almost everyone I love does not share them. And weirdly enough, something about the sadness I feel right now is strengthening my faith. It's like I suddenly understand everything that's put me off of religion and made me wonder if God even cares about the world anymore. I get it now. I understand what Tupac meant when he said that he was a rose growing in the concrete, what Maya Angelou meant when she said "But still, like air, I rise." Except that maybe I don't, because I don't share their life experiences, but I understand the feeling.

Going forward, I will be a beacon. I will continue to choose love, every single day. I will choose my words carefully and my actions even more so; I will not fall victim to careless cruelty. I will be the rose in the concrete and the air that rises and the change I want to see and a thousand other metaphors for that person who just will not back down and will not be silent. My heart can be broken over and over by the hate I see, but I will continue to whip out my favorite pen and my hot glue gun in order to mend it. I understand now. I will not be defeated.

Published by Kylee Jackson