“You haven’t let it go yet,” he said from across the table. “What do you mean?” I shot back. Calmly as always, he goes “You haven’t cried like that in front of me until today.”
It took me a minute to realize he was right. During the last few weeks leading up to the election, I was mentally and physically exhausted. The night of the election, we had stayed at 50 Broadway until John Podesta, through the large TV screen, told us to go home. I had woken up the next morning and scrambled to get to the New Yorker Hotel where our candidate was making her concession speech. I was in shock. There were no tears. I felt empty.
The New York team got locked out of the auditorium where she was speaking. We were huddled in line around iphones and computers struggling to live stream the concession speech as we were going through security into the overflow room. By the time we got to the overflow room, the speech was wrapping up and we hadn’t heard it. Co-workers were crying so hard and all I could do was stand by them giving the most stifling hugs possible. To this day, I have not had the heart to listen to the speech in its entirety.
After the speech was over, security told us to get into a single file line. We quickly realized we were being brought into a different room to meet HRC. She had heard some staff were blocked out of the auditorium and wanted to thank us even though we were in overflow. We were brought into the room as they were setting up. Secret service was already hooking up the rope line but one of the advance staff said, “these are her staffers, she doesn’t want the rope between them.” That one sentence meant a lot.
After the quick remarks from HRC at the New Yorker, I decided I would ghost the rest of the day because I didn’t know how to process what was happening. I had lunch with my colleagues then arranged to meet one of my best friends at her office in midtown. She put me in a conference room and explained how her team had done no work that day either. Everyone was distraught. Being in safe space, explaining the last few days of GOTV to her got me riled up. We had worked so hard. The tears started flowing. I cried. Her coworkers realized I was an HFA staffer and came in to console me.
In my head, that one outburst of tears and anger was it. I had cried about it, and it was time to let go and accept the loss. Through the next few weeks my choice descriptor was “broken.” I spent some time decompressing, trying to rearrange my personal life which completely went into disarray, and sorting through the somewhat overwhelming deluge of HFA alumni emails with job opportunities.
I asked myself, “Do I even want this anymore?” Why do I care when my country showed it’s true colors and said to me:
- No, woman. You’re not good enough to lead, no matter how experienced, or how qualified you are — no matter how hard you work.
- No, immigrant. You and your kind don’t deserve to be here and we will willingly ignore the fact that this country cannot survive without your contributions.
So I let myself go into a dark hole, where I couldn’t bring myself to speak to anyone for a bit. I sent CVs, typed out emails, and tried to send some “help me” notes to my people. I focused on doing things.
Last week I got a break. A friend heard about a lead at an office I care about. Somewhere I’ve been where I know can do something despite what’s happening on the federal level. It could be a good opportunity, he said. I threw my hat into the ring and went though the fastest, most intense interview sessions I’ve ever been part of. Three rounds in three days.
During my final interview with the principal, she asked “How did you get to HFA?” It was loaded question which I’ve never had to articulate out loud before. In that moment, I knew I was going to fumble because there is no short path through that story. It’s emotionally weighted, dealing with a death of someone I respected, a missed opportunity to attend grad school, and taking a break most of 2016. Add in the fact we lost, and I was sitting across from my prospective employer spiraling out, wishing she would cut me off. Thankfully, she did — with grace.
I had come home feeling like I blew my shot. I had rambled on, when my answer should have been much shorter, much sweeter. I hate the feeling. I don’t feel like me. I didn’t realize a simple question could trigger the depression back into my system so quickly.
When my husband came home, he offered to bring me out to dinner. On our way to the car, my frustration manifested into tears.
“I’m here for you. Just cry it out,” he said.
This is going to take some time.