What a Week

Living in New York City has no doubt been one of the most privileged experiences of my life, but also the most humbling. It is a city of extreme diversity of every variety (race, sexual identity, wealth), but somehow manages to be tolerant, gracious, and forgiving. 

While there are plenty of quantifiable things that separate the very top from the very bottom, there can also be very little. As much as I miss the convenience of driving (read: as much as I hate being crammed into a subway car...), it is a beautiful experience seeing every walk of life doing the exact same thing. We might be going to very different places, but we all have places to go.

I think the most important thing I've learned from living here is that it feels good to be uncomfortable. It feels good to be a small fish in a big pond. And it feels amazing to be a part of a community that collectively cooperates for the good of everyone. It isn't perfect, but something is working - you can see and feel it whether you want to or not. 

It was awful listening to very real conversations on the street and subway this week, especially from those who expressed legitimate concerns for their safety. It was also interesting, but heart-breaking, to hear a lot of those same people suggest that they still would have felt compromised had Hillary prevailed. The privileged reality for me is that my life will largely remain unchanged despite the deeply polarizing outcome of this election. It is embarrassing to admit it (especially because I am so profoundly opposed to Trump), but there is still a lonely comfort there. 

The conflict for me is that I am deeply uncomfortable feeling like my well being is coming at a real cost to so many other groups of people. There is just no way that feels right.

While I can only speak to my personal experience, it feels really important to me to try and respectfully share my feelings, especially because I did not vote with the same sentiment as many of my conservative friends and family. If I lived almost anywhere else, I likely would not have had the opportunity to experience such a raw, emotional response to the election. In all honesty, I hate conflict and I probably would have avoided it. But now - for better, for worse - I don't feel like I can or even want to avoid those feelings. 

It feels like now more than ever I want to experience genuine empathy for others and try and attempt to understand a perspective other than my own. I hope whoever is reading this can also share in this need and the fear of ignoring something so important. I can attest from my own experience that it really does feel good to be uncomfortable, especially once you see how much it can benefit everyone. 

Life is hard, I hope we can decide to help each other.

Emily C. Butler

Emily C. Butler, 1153 3rd Avenue, New York, New York 10065, USA

Emily C. Butler is a New York City based interior designer + decorator.