This Election Day kind of feels like the day you’re scheduled to get your wisdom teeth pulled: You’ve gotta do it, and it’s gonna hurt, but you’re not sure how much it will hurt.
For better or worse, we’re gonna have a new commander-in-chief-elect by the end of the day. Here are seven ways to remain safe and sane:
Stop, take a deep breath and allow it to flood your entire body. Pray, meditate, levitate—whatever it takes to get you to your Zen place. I promise you that it’s gonna be OK. Even if it’s not, the Caribbean is just one or two plane rides away. Prices are cheap. I checked. If you work a job that isn’t location-dependent, then you can easily set up residence under the Jamaican sun.
If you have to live in the U.S., then a one-week vacation surrounded by blackness and warmth will do your soul well. It’ll be like Gumbo Soup for the Black Soul. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll meet somebody who will help you get your groove back, even if it doesn’t last a lifetime.
Resist the urge to check your phone incessantly throughout the day for election results. Don’t be that guy or girl who checks the phone every few minutes the day after a first date, obsessively trying to see if she or he texted you a smiley face emoji. Play it cool. You do not need to know who wins each state the exact moment that it happens. This will most likely induce high blood pressure and cause heart palpitations.
Think about it: Do you really wanna spend Election Day in urgent care? Allow yourself to not have to be “in the know” moment to moment. In fact, love yourself enough to turn off your phone. This is one of the few times where ignorance may truly be bliss.
Pretend that you are Janet Jackson in “Rhythm Nation” or Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Dance like nobody’s watching, or dance like everybody’s watching. Dance in your car, dance on Snapchat, dance alone, dance with your bae or get in formation with your crew. Just dance. If you are part of the rhythmless nation, then just exercise. Running, cycling and kickboxing cardboard replicas of presidential candidates all qualify. Remember that endorphins do a body good. They keep you calm. You need to be calm today.
A certain presidential candidate has encouraged his supporters to go to polling stations to “watch” for voter fraud, which can easily be seen as a form of voter intimidation. If this concerns you, go to your polling place with a trusted friend, family member or neighbor. If you notice anyone “policing” the station, don’t interact with him or her. Vote and leave.
If you are especially concerned for the safety of other voters, call 866-OUR-VOTE. If you are afraid for your own safety, do not pull a George Zimmerman and take matters into your own hands, ’cuz it most likely won’t work out well for you. Also, please don’t try to be Luke Cage, ’cuz this ain’t a Marvel story, and you certainly ain’t bulletproof.
Remember when you were a kid and the biggest drama in your life was whether or not you were invited to a classmate’s birthday party? Well, today is the day to experience the carefree life again. If you didn’t dress up for Halloween, or even if you did, now is the perfect time to act like you’re 8 years old. Pull out the coloring books, jump on a swing or enjoy a carousel ride. Sneak into the freezer and eat ice cream for breakfast.
If you really wanna go for it, either call in sick or “call in black” and go to your favorite amusement park, where the only decision you’ll have to think about is which ride to get on next. Whatever you do, your sole goal should be to have fun.
Be on the lookout, not just for voter intimidation but for voter suppression. If you notice excessively long lines, problems with the ballot or anything that feels off, contact 866-OUR-VOTE. It is your duty not just to vote but to make sure that everyone who seeks to cast a ballot can. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words are as fitting now as ever: “For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.”
The people who are the first to hear your good news, the ones on whose shoulders you cry—hang with those people today. Arrange a coffee date, go to their houses for dinner or call if they live far away. Whatever you do, find a way to be together. Bask in their love; take comfort in their presence. Share the historic moment together so that when you raise that glass tonight—either in celebration or utter disbelief—you are doing it with loved ones who will be with you through this presidential term and the many more to come.