What Happens Next?

Well, guys. This past week has been-- well, it's been a week, hasn't it? I know a lot of people are struggling right now. People are scared. So many people, including me, are heartbroken by what the reality of the world seems to be, and maybe even feeling foolish for ever imagining things could turn out otherwise. At least, that's how I feel. A longtime feminist blogger shouldn't suddenly wake up and go, "Oh my god, misogyny exists, guys!", but it feels like I realized that in a very different way last week. One of the worst parts of this is how powerless it makes us feel. Powerless against hate, and powerless against the direction of the world. It's hard to know what to do. And my default state this past week has been "doing nothing." I haven't been able to write, or blog, or reply to emails, or read books, or do anything that requires a little bit of self-motivation or sitting with my own thoughts for a moment.

But we can't shut down for the next four years. We need to find our strength, and we need to fight back. So here are some of suggestions that I'll be trying to follow over the next few days.

1. Self Care

I mean it, guys. Stop constantly scrolling through Twitter. Don't you dare read any news comment sections. There's staying informed to take action and then there's punishing yourself into paralysis, and I feel like a lot of us are in the second camp. Take time for yourself. Turn off your devices. Turn off your internet at the wall if you have to. Take a walk outside. Listen to an audio book. Frantically reorganise and embrace your Marie Kondo. Spend time with friends. Spend time sleeping. Whatever. But give yourself space to process and space to breathe, without the constant barrage of information and voices that the Internet provides.

And when you're ready to come back:

2. Tune into a few smart voices

Stop the barrage of constant information. Find a few people (and I'm always eager for suggestions) who are informative and intelligent, whose information you trust and whose opinion you respect, and set aside specific time to just check in with them. Right now I like checking into Heidi Heilig's twitter to see what's been going on. She's smart, brave, witty, and I at least find her commentary and calls to action inspiring amongst all the anxiety.

Alternatively:

3. Subscribe to a traditional newspaper

Lots of people have been recommending this. Journalism is already a dying, underfunded medium, and freedom of the press is under threat. Not only will a subscription help ensure that investigative journalism can happen into anything that happens in the future, but it gives you The News for the day, every day. You can keep informed, without constantly refreshing pages and seeing your whole day swept away with worry. People are recommending the Washington Post as the top pick, but the NY Times is good too.

4. Donate

There are lots of organisations that need our help now, more than ever. Quite a few places have made lists (check out one here), but some good choices are the ACLU, which has already declared their intention to fight back against Trump, and Planned Parenthood -- plus you can donate to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's name, so he gets a thank you certificate in the mail showing just what his politics has inspired.

5. Send a thank-you card

Quite a few people are dealing with their disappointment that the US doesn't have its first female president by sending thank you cards to Hillary Clinton for her work to punch through that glass ceiling, even if it wasn't successful this time. This is also good for that whole "getting off the internet and taking some time with your feelings" thing too.

6. Speak up

If you hear your friends making racist or sexist comments or jokes, speak out. Tell them it isn't OK. I know this can be scary, because we can be so afraid of rocking the boat or causing confrontation, but the situation is already uncomfortable. Speaking up just ensures that the person causes the discomfort feels some of it too, and, more importantly, that everyone else listening knows that you don't think this is okay.

7. Intervene to protect others

The incidents of threats and hate crimes have skyrocketed since last Tuesday. If you see something, don't stand for it. Help the person involved. That doesn't have to mean being confrontational. In fact, it can be safer for everyone involved if you're not. This illustrated guide on what to do if you witness Islamaphobic harrassment is excellent, and the basic principle of simply providing support applies to all sorts of situations. You don't have to shout at someone who is twice as large as you and looking violent. Sometimes simply running up to the victim with an "Omg, FakeName, it's been so long/sorry I'm late, how are you?" to make the abuser step back can be enough to make a big difference. You're aiming to help protect, not make a point.

8. Contact your representatives

But take this one from people who know a lot more about contacting US politicians than I do.

9. Don't stop doing That Thing

We all have a Thing. Writing fiction. Blogging about books. Baking cakes. Ice-skating. It can be hard to let life go on when things seem this messed up, but time continues to pass, and we can find strength by contributing in our own ways, with our own strengths. For some people who rocked the debate club, that means being politicians or civil rights lawyers. Some people who are good at caring for others become doctors or psychologists or social workers or other people who help others through their darker times. But anything can be Your Thing, and in difficult times, anything can help. Writing fiction can help people feel not alone. Dancing can bring joy. Being a dab hand at fixing things makes people's lives continue to turn. If you're feeling lost about what you can possibly do when the world is so dark, the answer is probably simply what you already love and are inspired to do.

And if you don't know what Your Thing is yet, or don't see how your interests are useful, maybe now's the time to explore it.

10. MORE self care

Because I'm serious. Take some deep breaths. Sleep. Journal. Take a walk with an audiobook and a festive coffee. Hug a kitten. Contact that friend you've been meaning to catch up with. You have got to take care of yourself. We're in this for the long haul, guys. You've got to be gentle with yourself.