I’d been without hope for so long it had begun to feel normal.
As any of you who regularly read my column know, this election season has been rough on me, and yes, I’ve cried over the election of Donald Trump. Not because I need a safe space, but in reality, because I cry when I’m most angry.
I’ve felt a bit paralyzed since the election. I’ve felt furious, ostracized and with very little outlet. I’ve taken internet insults not directly hurled at me, but at those who feel like me, such as “crybaby,” “libtard,” “feminazi” and “democRAT” far too personally (though, would you guess it? I’m technically a registered republican, though not for much longer).
When I first heard about the march, I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend. I checked “interested” on Facebook, but wondered if it wasn’t just too far out of my comfort zone. My social anxiety skyrocketed just thinking about being around that many people I didn’t know. But I knew in my gut this was something I needed to do. I’d promised myself to take action every chance I saw necessary.
On Inauguration Day, I shied away from the television and instead stared blindly at my computer screen in my office. Designing banners felt so arbitrary. I pushed forward, trying to focus on my plans later in the day to work on march posters with kindred spirits. I clicked through different sign ideas, and finally settled on one.
Saturday morning I woke up early, got ready and headed to the Women’s March on Pocatello. The closer we grew to the park, the more electric my heart felt. People were pouring in from every direction; people who felt like I did, people who were willing to be the change they wanted to see.
My heart filled up as I recognized classmates, professors, colleagues and friends. Strangers complimented each other’s signs and took photos together. Something I hadn’t realized I was missing was in the air, and my lungs filled with it. Hope. Smiling came easily and seemed to be infectious.
On January 21, 2017 millions of people from all walks of life all over the world marched with me, with over 1,000 in this little city. We marched for ourselves and for those who oftentimes feel without a voice. I think we all had individual reasons for marching whether it’s equal pay, access to affordable healthcare, representation in government, you name it. But, the common theme prevailed: our rights, and nothing less.
Does the fight stop now? Of course not, but the women’s march refueled me.
It reminded me that a difference can be made, and there are people willing to help make it. Remaining paralyzed will do no good.
We need to seek out opportunities to be kind, to be a voice, a leader, someone who gets the ball rolling.
Thank you, Pocatello, for turning out on a cold and snowy Saturday morning to show you believe in something.
My heart is full again, and I’m ready for whatever’s next.