As the final votes were tallied, I was confused. My headspace had been dominated by politics for the past six months. Over the course of this period, I had found clarity in my convictions and strength in my impression of positive progress in our country. That underlying belief was dealt an unexpected blow as the champion was crowned.
As people around the country began processing this outcome, counselors at Crisis Text Line kicked into action. Hundreds of volunteers poured online to handle an influx of individuals in crisis. I found solace among this community spreading love and warmth in a night many felt was dominated by fear and division. I supported those experiencing emotions sometimes not far away from my own; I empathized with their pain.
To speak nothing of the political dimensions of that night, it is devastating that such a large number of people were thrust into crisis. No one deserves to experience such heartache. Yet, in the face of fear, love responded.
Earlier this past fall I noticed a button attached to a lady’s backpack, “Love Trumps Hate” it said. It was a clever slogan, but I couldn’t help think to myself, does love really trump hate? You’d certainly reach a different conclusion following most social circles or media outlets these past few months. Stepping back and looking at the news headlines from this past year, it’s clear hate sells more than love…
Falling down this line of thinking, I am reminded of Crisis Text Line. I picture the millions of individuals across our country and the political spectrum spreading love and trying their best to overwhelm the voices of hate. It’s an uphill battle. Psychology tells us our reactions of fear and worry dominate those of hope and calm.
Looking inward, I find the opposite has been true; 2016 has been colored by love.
- Love for others – graduating from college in May and transitioning to life in San Francisco with new friends, old friends, and radiating warmth.
- Love for learning – devoting myself to the field of Data Science and discovering my professional passion.
- Love for writing – exploring 20+ topics through this medium and engaging with issues close to my heart.
- Love for pain – fulfilling my yearlong commitment to Crisis Text Line by volunteering as a crisis counselor for more than 240 hours, touching the lives of more than 220 individuals.
I cannot claim, though, that 2016 has been one consistent high. It has also been scattered with flashes of hate, moments of sadness and unending worries. Yet, each dive downward was followed by an even greater sprint higher. I have gained confidence in my personal and professional paths and greater excitement for what’s coming next.
It’s difficult to reconcile this positive impression of my year with my reaction towards the macro-context of 2016. In searching for closure, I have found myself looking inward and taking pride in those areas which I have controlled and seen to fruition. Recognizing my own self-worth and achievement was the single greatest key to closing 2016 on a high note. I plan on maintaining and building upon this mindset into the new year.
In my 2015 “Year in Review” I wrote of gratitude I felt for the opportunities I had been afforded. While I still embrace that sensation today, as I look back at 2016 and forward into 2017, my overriding feeling of gratitude is for the fighters.
Those who combat division with acceptance.
Those who battle depression with support.
And, those who fight hate with love.
Fighting for these values is apolitical. Love will win.
Cheers to the fighters, onward to 2017.
P.S.: In the days after the 2016 Presidential Election, Crisis Text Line handled 2X their normal volume of texters. The words “election” and “scared” were the top words mentioned by texters with “scared” being most commonly associated with “LBGTQ”. During this period, 88% of texters said connecting with the service was helpful (2% higher than average) and 91% of texters were connected in under five minutes (3% higher than average).
Join the movement, pledge to be a 2017 counselor today by visiting: crisistextline.org/volunteer/