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© 2019 by Ali Owens​

With Love: Finding My Purpose in an Age of Uncertainty

I wore a dress to work on November 8th, 2016. I will always remember this; the way people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the Twin Towers went down, or the day of the Challenger explosion. I hardly ever wear dresses, but it seemed the obvious choice for such a historic day. The United States of America was about to elect our first female president, and in the name of Girl Power, I wanted to represent. So a dress it was.

Spirits were high at the office. My colleagues and I - all female, and representing a variety of economic backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations - were already feeling victorious. It was a day, we knew, that would go down in history.

We didn’t yet realize why.

Later that night, as I sat in front of the television with a glass of wine, I felt a moment of real fear as the polls suddenly showed Trump surging ahead. But I laughed it off - after all, there was no way he would win. The night was young. Love would triumph over hate. I was sure of it.

An hour later, I’d switched to Scotch whiskey - a single ice cube clicking ominously against the glass as it trembled in my clenched hands.

An hour after that, I was sobbing.

I couldn’t understand it - not at first. I was unable to identify the ache in every fiber of my being for what it was: a deep, profound grief. In those moments, I couldn’t process what had happened, and all I could think about was how silly I was being - crying because my favored candidate lost. I’d never seen anyone fall apart after an election, and I’d certainly never been affected this way by one. Surely I was the only one lying awake at 3:00 in the morning, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep for the persistent, acidic trepidation churning in my gut? Surely I was the only one whose eyes maintained a slow drip system of tears that I hadn’t the will nor the energy to stop?

I slept fitfully, on and off, and woke with damp cheeks; I’d been crying even as I slept. I toyed with the idea of staying in bed; the thought of going to work and having to see and interact with other humans almost felt like too much to bear. I’d lost faith in everyone and everything. I managed to get up, but I dressed all in black, as though I was going to a funeral, and didn’t bother with makeup. At the office, my colleagues’ eyes were as red-rimmed as mine. I sat at my desk and reviewed tax returns and real estate contracts and cried - a slow leak of sorrow, like a faucet left to drip.

Never in my life have I wept for twenty-four consecutive hours - and I say this as someone who has experienced a lot of fucking heartbreak. Even despite everything I’ve been through, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as heartbroken - as literally broken - as I did following this election. I felt like someone I loved had died. And I wondered what the point of any of it was. Why bother writing about social justice? Why bother trying to raise awareness about misogyny and racism and discrimination and bigotry? The world, I felt, had gone to complete shit, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt utterly, cripplingly useless.

Now, a week later, I still feel hollow. I am still grieving.

But something has shifted, and I am no longer hopeless.

Instead . . . I am more determined than I’ve ever been in my entire fucking life.

Something HAS to change - this much is obvious. And I will never stop fighting for what I believe in. I WILL NEVER STOP. As long as there is breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart, I will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER give up. I can’t say I’ve ever felt this fierce, this mighty, this fucking strong.

I thought I knew what I wanted. The tragedy that is the impending Trump presidency has caused me to rethink everything. And as a result, I’ve stumbled upon my life’s work.

You see, what I really love - what really lights the fire in my soul and propels me forward through the dark - is the knowledge that I can help make a positive impact in this crazy, fucked up world we live in.

With that said, I will be going to Washington D.C. on January 21st, to take part in the Women’s March on Washington after the inauguration.

Financially, it doesn’t make sense. I struggle to make ends meet as it is. But I yearn to be there with such ferocity that it’s keeping me up at night. My heart and my gut are telling me that this is what I need to do - so I’m doing it. I’ll make it work. It is so important to me to join this march and add my voice to the rising song of tens and thousands of people - the people saying, “We are better than this.”

Because I have to believe we are better than this. I have to, or else I will sink into a chasm of despair. If I allow myself to subscribe to the notion that the people in this country would rather blindly follow a platform of hate and fear and discrimination than approach other humans with love and kindness, my heart will irreparably shatter. So while there is certainly evidence that many Americans find racism, misogyny and bigotry to be acceptable behaviors, I’ve chosen to focus on the rest of us instead. Those of us who know right from wrong. Those of us who believe that women should have full autonomy over our bodies; that homosexuality and gender fluidity are natural and normal; that black and brown people should not ever be held back because of something as trivial as the color of their skin; that the freedom to worship should not come at the expense of a “registration” system for those who believe something outside of the mainstream; that we cannot turn anyone away simply for being different.

WE ARE STILL IN THE MAJORITY. I must constantly remind myself of this whenever I begin to feel that we are drowning in a bitter sea of hate. And this is why I want to go to Washington: to surround myself with my allies. To be around the people who stand with love. The people who don’t subscribe to the fear-mongering and propaganda. The people who know that a human being is a human being, regardless of gender or ethnicity or orientation or identity. The people who stand on the right side of history.

We may have lost the battle…but we will win the war. Love always prevails - and I believe that now more than ever.