How To Reclaim Your Sanity From 2016
Today for many people I know in America is a dark day, and one they hoped would never come. As British people we also feel the repercussions of a Trump presidency because we know what an influence the US has on global politics. Today I have seen countries in mourning, and it looks like many are intent on rebooting 2016 or attempting to establish a lunar colony, if Twitter is anything to go by.
As attractive as the prospect of running away from the progressively conservative politics of the West is, and however much it feels like the world is tearing itself apart, I'm here to try and help you reground yourself. It does feel odd that the US election has pulled such a sense of fear and dread from the UK, nearly as much as Brexit did, but I completely understand why.
For young people, politics feels like it's ignoring us. It feels like our parents and grandparents are tearing up the world we know before our very eyes. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia and every other person focussed phobia you can think of, seem to be rampant and loud. Unfortunately, due to our generation being significantly smaller than older voters their views are the ones primarily being served. BUT, this by no means makes our votes insignificant or useless.
The political upheaval of this year is one that consistently reflects one thing - people are tired of the status quo.
Brexit saw us leave because people deprived in every area of their lives were given the choice of "stay the same" or "something else", and when you have nothing to lose the change in pace seems like the only option. I do feel like the US has voted in the same way. Trump is decidedly not a politician and Clinton has made it her career. He's awful, don't get me wrong, but he represents a vote against the established status quo, just like a leave vote did here. Because underneath all the racism, xenophobia and pure fear is a mass of people tired of an old system that never seems to benefit them.
I'm not happy about Brexit and I'm not happy about Trump. Here's how I've been grounding myself through the political turmoil of this year:
Take A Step Back
In the heat of results day, emotions are high, people are reactionary, and the results are inescapably everywhere. The best thing to do in these first few days of craziness is to remove yourself from the centre of all the noise. You don't have to ignore the world, or stop talking about it, but get away from your computer and do something you enjoy. Ground yourself in tactile reality instead of the ideas, concepts and theories swirling around with reckless abandon. It will feel dreamlike and odd at first, but that's probably because you won't be brimming with anxiety for the first time in months.
Humanise The Opposition
Throughout the entirety of the US election and the EU referendum, we demonised, ridiculed and derided our opponents. We did this to friends, family, work colleagues, celebrities and obviously politicians. But think for a moment - are they really trying to destroy the world?
I mean really, really think about. No one would vote for something they truly thought was awful or devastating. They voted for something they believe will make their lives better. They voted for a better future for their families. They voted for a better version of their country.
Just like you did.
They just have vastly different ideas of how to get there. Start to realise that the people who voted for the other guy did what they thought best. Realise that these people think exactly the same thing about you.
This really hard, and I honestly still struggle with applying this to the Brexit result, but I know that not everyone who voted to leave is a racist. I know they're not all idiots. I know they're not all aiming for self-destruction. This one takes time, but does help you calm yourself down from visions of the apocalypse.
In the case of the US election this might feel insulting, especially with all the horrendous rhetoric, but find the quiet people who voted for Trump for reasons other than race or some sort of phobia - they do exist, and you might find this whole thing a little easier to understand.
Stay Informed But Not Immersed
My first piece of advice was to remove yourself from it a little, but I think that if you care, you should keep informed instead of ignoring it or deciding the best method of hiding from it. Read a few news articles, but find the most neutral sources you can. Have discussions, but try to err on the side of detached rather than emotionally involved. Don't lose your passion, but reign in your anger.
Again, the poisonous talk throughout the election and referendum has made this hard, but the heat no longer needs to be consuming once the result is in. The anger and frustration are healthy to express and these first few days are going to be filled with confusion and accusations, but holding onto them as proof the result is wrong won't work.
Take your passion and put it to good use. Get political.
Find Your Political Voice
It's fine to be unhappy with the result. If it haunts you so much that you can't let it go then be the change you want to see. Join a political party, start one if you want, go to rallies, debates and vote in every single little thing you can.
The great thing about Brexit was the number of younger people who have come to care about politics. And I believe the same will be true for this election. This bad can contain good and if the next election sees millions more voting in it, a new political party, or the public with a louder voice.
These are how I've kept sane since June. I genuinely felt devastated by the referendum result and really felt like the UK was done for. My future felt no existent and I found life hard to face. But no one can live like that and doing so only hurt me. So I gradually pulled myself out of it and have cared about what's happening in politics ever since and what I can do to make it reflect my family and my values.
Don't let Donald Trump put you off politics, let him inspire you with his awfulness and make sure ignorance, fear and anger never win again.
When all else fails, here's a dog.