"I decided I was going to take a gap year and work for you before you had even announced you were running," I said through a shaky voice to the inspirational woman standing next to me. Hillary smiled warmly and sincerely thanked me. After that night, I was quick to fulfill the pledge I had made to Hillary by joining her campaign once I graduated from high school.
During this "gap year," I traveled to New York, Colorado, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire to work for her. I slept on countless couches, blow-up mattresses, and guest bedrooms of hospitable strangers. I knocked on thousands of doors, called thousands of voters, and asked thousands of people if they'd like to register to vote. I worked harder than I ever had in my life, but in the back of my mind, I had a feeling we were going to win.
On the night of the election, I received dozens of calls from friends and family offering their condolences. I remember laying on the floor of my office, crying not only out of fear for what was to come but also from an overwhelming feeling of disappointment that Hillary wasn't going to be our president. The next morning I woke up in complete denial. I thought any moment now I was going shake out of it and find out it had all been a bad dream.
Over the next few month as reality sunk in, I felt absolutely defeated. I began to develope a distaste for the politics; once bitten, twice shy, I suppose. I told everyone I knew that I going to take a break from politics and work in a coffee shop or a bakery. Somewhere warm, somewhere safe. I probably would have done it, too, if I hadn't gotten the call from my godmother that she was planning on running for the Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
I threw myself into that election and despite not winning, I realized that I never got into politics to win. It is definitely nice to win, but that's not what drives me to do this work. Instead, it's this voice I have in the back of my head that constantly asks, "If not you, then who?" If we all had given up on fighting for what is right after this past election, we would have accepted that false notion that hate is stronger than love.
Hillary Clinton once said, "Probably my worst quality is that I get very passionate about what I think is right." This has been one of my favorite quotes by her because it reminds me of myself, I will never give up on what I believe is right. Despite not knowing Hillary personally, I feel like she is such a large part of the woman I've grown to be in the past few year. Thank you, Hillary, it was an honor to work for you.