#imwithher: this isn’t defeat

Something horrible happened today. (Or, if you’re on the opposite side of the world from where I currently am, maybe it happened last night.)

As an American, I am utterly shocked at what we, as a collective group, did. We elected a terrifying, sexist, xenophobic, lying, tax-cheating man into our most highly regarded office. I wasn’t prepared for the blow of disappointment that swept over me this afternoon. I confess I took a (rather unhelpful) nap to escape it.

I don’t know what this decision will truly mean for our country; I don’t know that any of us truly know. As much as the election results were today, now it’s simply a waiting game, isn’t it? Where will this road lead us?

It’s too soon to tell.

Her Excellency, HRC

I’ll come right out and say it: I voted for Hillary. I did it weeks ago via absentee ballot. I had faith that my vote and the votes of millions of others – especially other women – would make a mark on our history. I was worried from the moment I sent my ballot off, but I trusted that we would come out and shout our battle cry unanimously on November 8.

I was blindsided by what happened (or didn’t happen, if you will).

Say what you will about Hillary. Sure, she made some pretty huge mistakes. She should have known better. Blah, blah, blah. I’m not here to get into a political war.

(Let’s face it, that would be stupid of me because it’s highly possible you know far more than I do. I know nothing about politics; I ask my BFF, JW, to explain everything to me and today, when I asked him to explain the outdated electoral system, he said, exasperated, “Ask me when you come home.” Likely, I’ll forget to ask in 8 months and it won’t come up again until 2020, but that’s beside the point. The point is that I know pretty much nothing, so let’s not fight about the race that seemingly would never end.)

But let’s talk about her – not because she lost; or because she made embarrassing and questionable mistakes; or even because she ran for president of the United States. No, I don’t really care about all that right now.

What I care about is how she fought for what she wanted.

The Battle Cry of Brave Women

Hillary Clinton may have lost the election, but she won in a completely different arena. Her run for the US presidency solidified something that we, women, have been whispering for generations:

We can be anything we want to be.

We can do anything we want to do.

We are just as good, just as smart, just as strong, just as independent, just as capable.

We are here and we are ready.

Hillary has been fighting with us – and in many cases, for us – for decades.

She has dealt with the scrutiny of a nation for being a working mother, a disgraced wife, and so much more.

No matter what you think of her, you have to admit it: Hillary Rodham Clinton is one tough lady. She’s been put through the ringer by men and surely, other women. Bitch has got balls.

And despite the fact that she had roaring opponents, she never quit. She kept pushing the boundaries of what we, as Americans, had come to expect of a woman’s ability to do a “man’s job.” She was writing new chapters in our holy book of “finding equality.”

She was chopping down trees and paving a new dirt path through an untraversed forest. She pushed and she pushed and she pushed until she couldn’t push anymore.

But I don’t think Hillary is done. And you know what? Neither are the rest of us.

The New “I’m with Her”

Even now, still, I’m with her. That’s my new mantra for this year. It may not mean that I stand with Hillary Clinton and pray to the gods of my Starbucks latte that she wins the presidency. It doesn’t mean anything about Hillary anymore, really.

Because even though Hillary may not be done with her fight (who knows what banner she’ll take up next, but you can bet your sweet ass that woman is not laying down and allowing this loss to end her career or life), it’s not about what she plans to do with all her free time next week, next month, and for the next 4 years.

What does it mean? It means this:

I’m with her: the woman searching for the magic she needs to start creating the art she was meant to create.

I’m with her: the high school girl level-headed enough to know that there are big things out there for her she hasn’t even dreamed of.

I’m with her: the mom who is hungry to find fulfillment outside of caring for her children – and I’m telling her that’s okay.

I’m with her: the middle school girl who dreams of one day becoming a writer, a painter, a singer, a dancer, a creator, a leader.

I’m with her: every brave woman out there whose story is yet to be told, who is actively seeking her next chapter, who is ready to scream at the top of her lungs – we are not done yet.

The Journey Ahead

Hillary paved a path for us, ladies, and we have to be willing to keep pressing forward. Will it be easier now? Probably not.

Will we see things improve for us all of a sudden in our workplaces, schools, and communities? Sadly, no, that’s not likely.

The question we must now ask ourselves is this: Will we keep traveling the path that Hillary – and countless women before her – made until we can finally turn it into a paved road?

Don’t get me wrong. It totally sucks that we don’t have a female president right now. (Because how awesome would it be if our whispers had become a shout today?) It sucks that we’re still in the trenches, fighting for the equality we deserve.

This is not the end. This is not defeat. This is only the beginning of a new chapter in this epic.

Let’s keep writing it together.

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