I was too shy to ask the teacher, too afraid to let any of the other children see the bright red blood streaming down my arm — it was as though I thought I’d done something wrong and had to hide it.
Turns out, as my mom explained so empathetically and lovingly after picking me up from pre-school, a mosquito had bit me and left a stream of blood (which I didn’t yet know could happen). My mom hugged me, wiped away the blood and felt so awful that I had been terrified of the blood on my arm for so long — and worse — that I’d been even more fearful to ask for help.
In second grade, I obediently put my head down on my desk (the whole class was being punished, though I don’t remember why) and subserviently restrained from making a peep, as instructed.
I didn’t raise my hand to tell my teacher that my palm was swollen astronomically, that during recess I had clutched my hand in my coat pocket, only to discover I was grasping a bee.
Apparently a bee sting for me wasn’t just a bee sting. I suffered an allergic response, but suffered in silence, because I was too afraid to speak up.
Making My Voice Heard
As a child, I was not just shy; I was paralyzed with fear when a teacher called on me to give my answer or opinion. To me, the seemingly simple task of raising my hand was akin to stripping naked in front of my entire class and having them all laugh at me. I held my breath and prayed for invisibility any time a teacher looked out at the rows of budding faces and always, always seemed to hone in on my palpable fear. Hearing “Brijana?” from any and all teachers was cue for my body to go into panic fight or flight mode. My heart started racing, I became short of breath and my brain went blank. My voice was so little that no teacher could ever hear me, adding to my mortification. I was repeatedly told to “speak up” and each time I heard those words, my voice got quieter and quieter — and my peers laughed louder and louder.
The abuse I suffered due to my father’s sociopathy paralyzed me in my childhood years, so much so that I couldn’t even respond to a classmate’s question as simple as: “What kind of music do you like?” I thought my whole world would crumble if I said I loved Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand instead of Ace of Base or Boys II Men. So I said nothing or, “I don’t know, what do you like?” Then promptly agreed with whatever was said in an ill-advised attempt to fit in and not be questioned.
But I’m no longer a child. I’m no longer afraid of my abusive father or what anyone else thinks of me.
And I think it’s beyond time to make my voice heard. Which is why I would like each and every person reading this to know I’m wholeheartedly and vehemently with her.
Yes, that’s right: I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary and I will vote for her to be our next president come November.
Sorry, Emily Post
I am well aware of the etiquette of not mixing politics with business, not talking politics with friends.
As a member of a content marketing team specializing in branding, my take on the subject has, up until now, been NOT to talk about politics on your blog, website or social media accounts —unless it is inherently part of your brand (and in most cases it’s not).
Mixing politics and business is polarizing — why lose half your clientele by writing long political rants on Facebook when you could keep your political views to yourself and let your social media feeds focus purely on your brand or product?
But this is not a regular election. This election is not about opposing policies — it’s about making sure a sociopath (and I unfortunately am very well acquainted with the definition) does not set foot in the Oval Office.
This should be the easiest election yet — a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote against evil — but as I scroll through my social feeds and engage in conversations with people in real life, what I see and hear over and over and OVER again is that people don’t “like” Hillary so won’t vote for her.
This is a very dangerous — not to mention, irrational — stand to take.
Which is why I’m speaking up and urging everyone to vote for Hillary Clinton, Facebook un-friending be damned.
This election is just too important to worry about people not “liking” what I have to say.
Which is why I’m taking Meredith Grey’s words from Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy to heart:
“Don’t let fear keep you quiet. You have a voice, so use it. Speak up. Raise your hands. Shout your answers. Make yourself heard. Whatever it takes, just find your voice, and when you do, fill the damn silence.”
My Voice, My Choice
So here’s how I’m going to fill the silence:
1) I am fed up with women having to be “likable.” My screenplay Love Abridged (which I plan to direct, produce and star in) delves deeply into the issue of women in an appalling number of Hollywood films having to fall down — either physically or emotionally — in order for both men and women to like them.
The thinking goes something like this: A strong woman is intimidating to men because they will fear her — and intimidating to women because they will be jealous of her. So make her fall flat on her face so that men will find her adorable (it plays into their damsel in distress fantasies) and women will relate to her (it makes them feel better about themselves if even their fave A-list actress can’t walk five feet at a time without tripping).
I don’t give a damn if you like Hillary.
You’re not choosing whether or not to make her prom queen or picking her to be your best friend or lover.
Do you LIKE Donald Trump?! A man who hates women and the disabled (that’s two checks against me), who wants to take away women’s right to choose their health care needs and eradicate Obamacare (that saved my life, by the way, when I needed to be rushed to the ER three times two years ago and then hospitalized for my rare and debilitating autoimmune conditions — and which continues to save my life by paying for bi-monthy doctor appointments, regular blood tests and too many medications to count). Do you LIKE a man who wants to overturn the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking marriage equality ruling and who routinely makes homophobic remarks? A racist whose catchphrase is “build a wall” to keep out Mexican immigrants he deems “rapists”? Do you LIKE a man who is inherently a bully, who viciously taunts protestors and who has made it disturbing clear in his egoism that HE ALONE can SAVE the United States, despite having absolutely NO EXPERIENCE in government? Do you LIKE a man whose entire platform relies on inducing FEAR and CONTROLLING people with FEAR?
Because if you do, I’ll give you the name of my father, who thrived on controlling my mom, sister and me with fear, who abused us all and then threw my mom into oncoming traffic when she left him, who hired a hit man to follow us in New York and who used every arsenal available to him to make our lives a living hell until we went into hiding, said NO MORE to fear and came out of hiding to tell other women that there is hope and happiness to be found on the other side of domestic violence and abuse.
As I mentioned, I know a sociopath when I see one. And if you LIKE Donald Trump, you are condoning hate, abuse, violence and fear.
I would like to assume that anyone reading my words here on the KOTAW blog prefers love, peace and experience and is not ignorant or deluded enough to vote for a sociopath.
So regardless of whether or not you like Hillary Clinton, vote for her, speak up for her, “don’t let fear keep you quiet”. Because not standing up for Hillary is undifferentiated to liking and voting for Trump. And in my opinion, that’s the epitome of unconscionable.
2) Yes, I do like Hillary. I respect and admire her strength, tenacity, bravery and dedication to fighting for human rights. But before I write an essay on everything I love that Hillary Clinton has already done for our country and everything I love that she has plans to do, let me make it VERY CLEAR that if Bernie Sanders had won the Democratic nomination for President, despite the fact that I didn’t vote for him in the primary, I would be very publicly — and proudly — FEELING THE BERN.
Not just because I’m a progressive Democrat but because Donald Trump is the other option.
If I could vote for George W. Bush to come back and be president I would vote for HIM over Donald Trump — that should tell you how dead serious I am about Donald Trump not being elected.
I wholeheartedly disagree with George W. Bush on political issues (not to mention he completely destroyed our economy) and was genuinely scared when he was elected (twice!) to be our president — and remained scared each and every day he was in office.
But he wasn’t a sociopath. If my choices were voting for a sociopath versus voting for a Republican, I would vote for a run-of-the-mill Republican each and every time.
How lucky are we that these aren’t our election choices?!
We get to vote for Hillary, who inspired these words from President Obama that could not ring more true:
“I can say with confidence, there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, not anybody — more qualified to serve as President of the United States of America.”
And regardless of whether or not you like Hillary, you should feel PRIVILEGED to be able to vote for her because in doing so, you’ll be saying NO to bigotry and NO to allowing an abhorrent, volatile man to be trusted with nuclear weapons.
3) I think we should be jubilantly celebrating the ginormous crack Hillary Clinton placed in the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman nominee for president.
And as a whole, I don’t feel that we are. Or at least we’re not being vocal enough about it.
After listening to Hillary Clinton’s goose bump-inducing acceptance speech, I woke up the next day expecting the world to be different.
It had to be, after Hillary Clinton had stood tall and proud on that giant stage at the Democratic convention and said “Tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president.
“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too – because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
I felt HOPE in the air after President Obama became the first black man to be nominated by a major political party for president. The world did feel different to me the day after that historic moment in history.
So I ask you, if you haven’t yet celebrated the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be nominated by a major political party (which, regardless of your beliefs, is a HUGE FREAKING DEAL) is it because you don’t like her, because she’s a woman, or because you’d genuinely prefer to elect a sociopath?
I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman (to insinuate that to any woman is to completely undermine her intelligence) but I sure as hell am celebrating that she’s a woman and that I have the right to vote for her.
And I urge you to do the same, Celebrate that we can vote for good over evil. Celebrate the fact that 97 years ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote in the U.S. — and now, in 2016, we can vote for a woman to be president.
That’s pretty damn KOTAWesome.
And in the words of Hillary Clinton:
“Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all, if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign.
“If you believe that companies should share profits, not pad executive bonuses, join us. If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage… and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty… join us.
“If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care… join us…
“If you believe we should expand Social Security and protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions… join us.
And yes, if you believe that your working mother, wife, sister, or daughter deserves equal pay… join us.”
In the words of Vice President Biden:
“This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in. The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain to elect Donald Trump as President of the United States. No major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has been less prepared to deal with our national security. We cannot elect a man who exploits our fears about ISIS and other terrorists…A man who confuses bluster with strength.”
“Don’t be afraid to share your views. I know it goes against everything most of us have ever learned about social media, but sometimes things are more important than offending someone you’d rather not, potentially jeopardizing a friendship or business prospect. Truth, common sense, and goodness need to triumph over the alternative.”
PS: If anyone needs help getting into celebration mode over Hillary Clinton’s historic triumph, if anyone needs help getting inspired to VOTE for her to be President, I encourage you to watch this video and belt out the lyrics!
Oh, and if you don’t like that song either (apparently it ignited “controversy” on Twitter) then perhaps you can listen to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Strip Me” and take her anthem, “I’m only one voice in a million, but you ain’t taking that from me” to heart and SPEAK UP!
Or, in the words of President Obama, “Don’t boo, VOTE!”
Dear friends, I did not write this to get into a political debate, only to speak my truth and hope to inspire others to do the same. So if you have something positive and uplifting to say, please share it in the comments section below to help make the world a better place.
The KOTAW Content Marketing community is all about POSITIVITY and PEACE, so comments that do not meet these guidelines will not be approved.
Peace, love and pittie wiggles,