Audrey Bowers is a junior creative writing major and writes "Adult-ish" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The night before the results of the 2016 election came out, I watched the news and anxiously bit my nails, hoping it was all a bad dream as Trump won electoral votes. The next morning, I woke up and felt incredible guilt because I didn’t allow myself to have a say in any of it.
It was a Wednesday morning in early November. The entire world felt grey, or at least my entire world felt grey. I had a debate for my COMM 220 class that morning, but my grade on that assignment did not feel important to me anymore. The debate was sandwiched with conversations of despair and imaginings of what could happen to our country.
The rest of the day was just bleak. I remember sitting outside of a classroom, waiting for my literature class to begin. A certain type of panic and anxiety ran through my veins. The country I grew up in and even admired at one point didn’t feel as safe or free as I believed it was as a child.
As I saw the results of the election unfold, I noticed that there were a large number of people who hadn’t voted at all, including myself. I felt a sense of guilt, as if this all were my doing. My stomach felt sick and the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
After realizing that Trump was president and Pence was vice president, I worried about whether or not I should stay out of the closet as a bisexual woman. I was well enough out of it, but still close enough to jump back in and slam the door shut if I needed to, yet I didn’t want to do that. All that I wanted was to be myself, but I feared that I wouldn’t be able to do that due to harmful rhetoric, the possibility of LGBTQ rights being taken away and workplace discrimination.
In those moments, I felt afraid, angry and disappointed at once, determined to keep myself safe but also willing to put up a fight for my community and its rights. I also feared for people in other minority groups, such as: women, people of color, immigrants, the poor and the disabled.
As I felt all of this fear and anger, I wanted so desperately to add my voice to the sea of voices either standing against or standing with the new president, but I couldn’t. There was this pang of regret in my stomach, since I hadn’t voted. I didn’t vote and all of my reasons for not doing so seem so ridiculous to me now. I should have missed class, stood in the nasty weather, waited in the long lines and voted for the candidates that I thought would lead this nation in a suitable way.
With the state’s election coming up soon, I made it a priority to register and vote. The implications may not seem as large as a presidential election, but it still matters and I have the duty to exercise my right to vote. Instead of feeling the same regret that I did on Nov. 10, 2016, I will know that I did all that I could to make some sort of difference. Democracy will not work if we refuse to show up; it is my every hope that you will choose to show up as well.