A comprehensive list of things I worried about on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016:
Will I finally be able to start wearing my fall clothes?
Will winter be brutal?
Should I organize my closet this week?
Should I redecorate my apartment?
How will I pay for a new couch?
Should I have a holiday party?
Should I plan it now in case I’m competing with someone else?
Should it be a day party?
Will I gain weight around the holidays?
Should I be running more?
When will my toenail fall off after my last marathon?
Will it look cool when it does?
Is it weird that I brought that up on my last date?
Was this guy even worth my time?
Did he read my last story?
Did other people read my last story?
Will they read my next story?
What’s happening in health news?
When will scientists know exactly how gut bacteria affects our health?
What are they doing to be sure they’re right?
Are there bacteria on other planets?
Is that what aliens look like?
Are my gut bacteria different because I was home with my family this weekend?
Am I a good daughter and sister?
Will I be a good mom one day?
Will women’s health be more of a priority if Clinton is president?
Which Beyoncé lyrics will I tweet if she wins?
Since the early hours of Nov. 9, I haven’t worried about any of those things. Now I’m worried that I don’t know the people I share a country with, and that we really don’t understand each other at all. I’m worried that we never will, because I genuinely don’t know a lot of people who supported Donald Trump on Election Day, and if I did, I wouldn’t know where to begin a discussion. As a journalist, I’m worried that news consumption has become a partisan endeavor, and that confirmation bias will keep people from accepting facts that don’t fit their preferred narratives.
I’m worried about how America’s decision will affect my friends who are sexual assault survivors, people of color, immigrants, poor, Muslim, part of the LGBT community, and all combinations in between. I’m worried about all the folks I’ve never meet who don’t deserve to be victims of hate crimes and bigotry. I’m worried that as a college-educated white woman, I’m part of a group that has let down these people. I’m worried about how to be an ally to them, and that nothing I say or do will be enough to help them.
The winners in this election—not just Trump, but also the Republicans in the House and Senate—haven’t had time to do much just yet. I’ve written enough about science to know that we can’t always say that past actions will predict future ones. And I know that our government was purposely designed to be cumbersome so that one leader can’t change everything we’ve built—certainly not in one term. People who are older than I am have said that we’ll get through this like we’ve gotten through everything else, but I haven’t lived through times like these, and frankly no one has lived through a Trump presidency yet.
The only thing I’ve been able to think about doing this week is to offer my support and love for my friends who feel unsafe and uncertain while we all wait to see how the ripples of this election outcome will hit us. I’m worried that we won’t be able to go back to worrying about dumb things for a long time.