Yeah, having an offensive, ego-driven, exclusionist ex-reality show star president in January is going to suck like a really, really, really long bad date in a stupid alternate universe, but don’t give up and go crawl into a hole for the next four years. There are still ways to thrive, or at the very least sharpen coping skills. And, maybe, just maybe, even have a few laughs between the deep breaths and dark chocolate. Difficult times are ripe with opportunities to see what you are really made of, and if it’s Jell-O, you need a stronger core anyway, so get up, buck up and fire up. You’ve got things to do.
- News diet, news diet, news diet. No more than once or twice a week, scour reliable news and opinion sites (CNN, Politico, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Slate) top to bottom, right to left and listen to NPR every other car trip. Do it in a purposeful watchdog way that says, I need to have one eyeball on Washington to see if there is meaningful action I can take to counteract any harmful projectiles launched. Then look at nature photos, cute baby or cat videos, or Netflix and chill to get your blood pressure back down. Habitually refuse to let people and things you cannot change dominate your time or psyche. You are still you and your work is still the same today as it was election night. To be a decent person, take care of yourself and those you love, do good work, help others, and launch as many dreams as you can. Do not let this momentary distraction distract you. Do not devolve.
- A is For Activism. Rational-thinking progressive people must hold the line of resistance so the new scary administration doesn’t throw us back into the dark ages. Maybe you storm the square with a picket sign. Maybe you sign petitions. Maybe you write issue-impassioned letters to your representatives, the White House, or weigh in on social media. Maybe you join Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders on Twitter) in his tireless crusade for positive change and apparent pledge to wear out his first-amendment rights critiquing Trump’s misfires. Go Bernie. If millions of us get engaged and stay engaged, the result will be a corrective movement far greater than the sum of its parts.
- Try not to demonize people who voted strange. They had their reasons. Listen to them occasionally unless they turn ugly or explosive. You don’t have to agree—and you might need a stiff drink afterward or to practice perfecting a cartoonish silent scream in the nearest bathroom mirror. You need to know who’s around you, even if only to later commit to avoiding them for the rest of your life.
- Donate or volunteer at advocacy organizations that protect people and services vulnerable to the Trump administration. ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood and minority support groups near you are preparing for the fight, so send money if you can. Or look into volunteering at an immigrant service center where your participation could range from English and American culture tutoring to teaching basic job search skills or administrative assistance. Listen, you never know where this will take you and the possible friendships and learning opportunities waiting for you.
- Widen your circle. Get to know people of other races and cultures and you will see that we are more alike than we are different. Start close to home with a neighbor, co-worker or friend’s friend and expand from there. Try striking up friendly icebreaker conversations at the airport, grocery store, coffee shops, and events you attend. Just remember that there is a difference between forcing yourself on someone and genuinely wanting to connect. Don’t be aggressive or creepy. No one should have to consider calling security on you.
- Unless Trump is doing something harmful, immoral or illegal, try to ignore him. The man is plagued with a record-number of disturbing issues and a nasty Twitter habit, so he is going to work your nerves and this will have to be a game of imagination and sheer resolve. With a nod to Voldemort, the darkest fictional character in the Harry Potter series, Sheila, an intelligent, warm-hearted accountant shared that she intends to keep the prez-elect in the recesses of her mind by not speaking his name in 2017. Partly because her 3-yr old clung to her leg when she saw him screaming on TV during a campaign speech. Partly because she thinks he’s an ego-maniac bully who is grossly unqualified to run the country. Do what you have to do to preserve your own marbles until he is impeached or unseated.
- Look ahead. This is an absolutely absurd moment in time that doesn’t have to break your spirit, and how you navigate the Trump presidency will say more about you than it will him. Do good. Do you. Grow dreams. Create beauty. Stay in it. This is your America too.