Inauguration Day is upon us. Soon, President Barack Obama will sail off into the sunset, and Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as our new commander in chief.
There's no stopping this. As of Jan. 20, Trump will be your president and mine. If you're feeling lost or hopeless, it's OK. A lot of people are feeling the same. It may be too late to undo the results of the election, but it's never too late to do whatever you can to stand up for what you believe in. What better time to turn your feelings into action than during the inauguration itself?
Here are 25 things you can do during Trump's inauguration ceremony to make the world a slightly less scary place:
1. Make donations to organizations whose work will be more important than ever in the next four years.
Lots of important and life-saving organizations are going to need your help to survive a Trump administration, and they rely heavily on donations like yours.
If you have some cash to spare, consider a one-time or recurring donation to Planned Parenthood, (which is hosting a $20 donation drive on Jan. 20), the NRDC, the International Refugee Assistance Project, or the Trevor Project for LGBTQ Youth. There's also the NAACP, the National Network of Abortion Funds, Black Girls Code, the ACLU, National Women's Law Center, NARAL, Girls Write Now, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Purple Purse. That's just to name a few.
2. Call or write to your representatives to let them know you want them to stand against attacks on civil rights.
I know, you've probably heard that suggestion about a thousand times. Well there's a reason: It works!
It's also a lot easier than you think. Look up who your representative is and find their publicly available contact information. Then you can call or write a message to them saying that, as their constituent, you hope they will stand by the issues that make a difference to you.
Don't be silent; the government is there for you.
3. Going to one of the protests the day after the inauguration? Have a sign-making party!
If you plan to attend the Women's March on Washington or any of the other marches being planned around the country on Jan. 21, why not spend the day making a totally badass sign?
Gather your friends, get some craft supplies, and go for it! Squeeze all that frustration out of a tube of glitter glue and let your feelings be known in the form of a pithy slogan. Or feel free to download and print one of Upworthy's Women's March signs.
Who says the First Amendment can't be fun as hell?
4. Find some local organizations that need your support.
Donating to nationwide groups is great but a lot of those organizations also have local chapters that need help. Find out which ones are in your area and learn more about how you can support them directly.
Which reminds me...
Money is one thing, and showing up to help is another. There's no shortage of places that need actual physical help and would be thrilled to have someone donate their valuable time. While the 45th president is being sworn into office on Friday (and also not planning to actually start work until Monday), why not use that time to give back?
Volunteering will also show you how easy it is to make a difference, which is a feeling that you're going to need in spades for the next four years.
6. Support real, credible journalism. With money.
I know, I know. Paying for news? Crazy concept. The thing is, journalism is in big trouble right now. In Trump's first press conference, he openly yelled at CNN anchor Jim Acosta. That's just one example of the president-elect publicly denouncing the credibility of a free press. Trump's chief adviser is Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart — a platform that regularly publishes messages of hate and intolerance.
Trump has also promised to "open up the libel laws" in order to sue organizations that criticize his actions as president.
Now more than ever is the time to start financially supporting real news like The New York Times or The Washington Post or donating to ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom.
As a pro tip: The Washington Post has lifted its paywall through Saturday for the inauguration.
Don't just get your news through Facebook. Now is the time to get out of your echo chamber and learn about the world through actual reporting and fact-based journalism.
7. Shut off inauguration coverage and watch the Love-A-Thon instead.
Tune in to Upworthy's Facebook page at 12:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 20, just as the inauguration is starting, to watch the Love-A-Thon, the first ever Facebook Live telethon. Its goal is to raise $500,000 for organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood that stand up for marginalized communities.
That not enough for you? Did we mention that the Love-A-Thon will feature celebrities like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Fonda, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and more, joining together to stand up for love? It's gonna be great.
Be sure to RSVP to the event on Facebook to let all your friends know.
8. Use the #Inauguration hashtag to make your voice heard.
As usual during big events, Twitter and Facebook will be lit up with people sharing their thoughts using an official inauguration hashtag. You can jump in on the action and share your thoughts too.
Imagine if the majority of tweets were about standing up for the rights of minorities or fighting to stop climate change. That would send a pretty clear and powerful message.
9. Check out some of the protest hashtags as well.
As Trump is being sworn in, lots of people will be using Twitter to protest and send a message.
For example, the sexual assault advocacy group Force: Upsetting Rape Culture will be starting #WeWillNotBeSilent. Sexual assault survivors will be tweeting with that hashtag to stand up to the rape culture Trump represents. They'll also be tweeting with #InThisMan — to represent the ways in which Trump reminds them of their abusers.
10. Write "This is not normal" on a note and stick it somewhere you'll see it every day.
In a year or two you might forget how weird it is that a populist demagogue surrounded by hate-mongers is the president of the United States. That might lead to complacency, and complacency is dangerous.
So make a note that this is not OK. Stick it on your fridge or above your bed or on your coffee machine. For the next four years, it will serve as a reminder of what you're fighting for.
11. Reach out to someone who's also feeling anxious.
If you're feeling bad, chances are you know someone else who is also feeling that way too. Now is the time to reach out to them. We're all going to need each other's help and support.
You can even start planning to take real action together. Everything's easier when you have a friend.
12. Go visit a museum.
Museums are great, aren't they? You get to learn stuff, you get to see amazing artifacts and artwork, and you get to carry around an empty water bottle all day because, seriously, is there a recycling bin anywhere in the building?
Find out what's around you, and soak in some culture!
13. Join an online movement and start being active in it.
If you don't live in a major city or can't travel around easily, there are lots of online social justice movements you can be a part of. Pantsuit Nation got a ton of coverage during the election, but there a lot of other smaller groups on a range of issues from body positivity to immigration reform to workers' rights that you can join.
Being active and supportive in movements is essential if you want the causes you care about to stay in the conversation.
14. Give that whole meditation thing a try.
Meditation! You've heard of it. Your one vegan friend probably does it. You have an app for it that you haven't even opened yet. Why not give it a try today?
Meditation has been shown to help ease stress and promote relaxation, and at the very least, it's nice to just take a couple minutes to breathe and be peaceful.
15. Take the #PeoplesOath with the ACLU.
While Trump takes the oath of office, the ACLU has offered a way for citizens to take an oath of their own.
Take the #PeoplesOath & help protect the rights guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution. https://t.co/ts8qDoiuBZ https://t.co/HxeYEZxstn— ACLU of Texas (@ACLU of Texas)1484760019.0
The People's Oath is for people who want to make a promise — to themselves and the world — to uphold the Constitution and stand up for the rights of everyone, especially including those whom Trump has directly threatened.
16. Write about how you're feeling.
Chances are that your thoughts are complicated, conflicted, and not easy to talk about. One great way to work it all out is to sit down and write about it. If you're comfortable doing so, share your writing on social media so that friends and family know where you stand. It might help someone you know process their own feelings, and that's a powerful thing.
There are no rules, really. Write what you're thinking. It'll help you process it and make it clearer in your head — which will make it easier to figure out what you want to do next.
17. Watch a movie or read a book about someone overcoming incredible obstacles to remind yourself that together, we can do anything.
"Remember the Titans," "Selma," "Hidden Figures," "Spice World," "Harry Potter" — there's no shortage of on-theme stories about people overcoming insurmountable odds. That's what the next four years are going to feel like.
Based on true stories or not, they might just give you the juice you need to make it through the day.
18. Listen to something better than the inauguration speech. Like the "I Have a Dream" speech, for example.
Maybe you're stuck at work during the inauguration with a bunch of people who want to watch it on the office TV. Maybe you're a groundskeeper at the National Mall and there's no option to ignore what's happening right in front of you.
No biggie! Just pop in your headphones and listen to something that makes you feel better, like your favorite album or podcast. Or you can listen to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Hearing it might give you a glimmer of hope in the goodness of people despite what they're up against.
19. Set a reminder for the 2018 midterm elections.
Mark this date on your calendar: Nov. 6, 2018.
Everyone has their eyes set on 2020, but if you want to, you can change the government in just two short years.
On Nov. 6, 2018, at least 33 Senate seats will be up for grabs. That's a huge deal if you don't like the way the government is operating, but you can't just sit around and hope for the best. You have to spend as much time as you can learning about your candidates and their policies, and then you have to get out and vote. Try to get as many people as you can to do the same.
You have two years — make the most of it.
20. Donate to a food bank.
It's easy, it'll make you feel good, and it'll help some of the millions of hungry people in the United States. Plus, it'll get you out of the house and away from social media if you want to disconnect from inauguration coverage. There's really no good reason not to.
21. Form or join a book club.
Now is the perfect time to start reading again. I know, the inauguration is at noon Eastern time on a Friday, so it's probably not the best time to hold your first book club meeting, but it is the perfect time to send an email to your friends asking them to join you in starting a book club.
Read books that will motivate you, or at least entertain you, through the next four years.
22. Consider running for office yourself or get involved in a political campaign.
If there's one thing this election has taught us, it's that literally anyone — regardless of qualifications — can become president or end up in politics.
There's lots of great information available on how to run for office. The rules tend to differ by state, district, and position, so read up on it. If you're a woman, check out Emily's List. If you're a person of color, check out LaunchProgress. We need more diversity and representation in government, and there's no reason that can't start with you.
Even if you don't decide to run, you might know someone who would make the perfect candidate. You can be their campaign manager! Sounds fun, doesn't it?
23. Learn about how to become part of the resistance to the Trump administration's policies.
The power is in your hands to resist the hateful and harmful administration Trump has promised to lead, and there's no better time to start learning how than as he's being sworn into office. The Resistance Manual, which was put out by several prominent Black Lives Matter activists and racial justice organization Stay Woke, is a good place to start.
Once you know what your role can be in a Trump world, help spread that message to others. And after you've done that...
24. Read up on conflict resolution and how to have difficult conversations.
The 2016 election revealed a sobering truth about the American people: We disagree fundamentally on a lot of key issues. Remember how terrified you were to have Thanksgiving dinner with your conservative cousins? Yeah, well, get used to that.
There's going to be a lot of hard conversations in our future. You're pretty much guaranteed to have a run-in with someone you disagree with. Instead of going on the defensive though, why not take some time to learn about conflict resolution and how to have productive conversations?
Yelling and screaming and fighting aren't really going to get us anywhere. Instead of watching the inauguration, pick up a book that will teach you how to engage people on a human level and work out your differences with civility.
25. Take care of yourself.
It's OK to feel what you're feeling. Existential dread isn't a sign of weakness nor does it mean you're a special snowflake. It means you're paying attention.
This election did something pretty remarkable: It made people actually grieve. That means that people are experiencing the actual process of mourning, and emotions are raw and vulnerable. Yes, even two months later.
If you care about the world, you're going to need to work hard, but you're also going to need to take care of yourself. Whatever your self-care involves — bubble baths, yoga, spa days, burying yourself in your work, laying on the floor and crying — double down on it, and don't feel bad about it.
You need to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others, if you know what I mean.
Most importantly, try to remember that this isn't the end of the world; it's the beginning of a hard and worthy challenge.
It may seem impossible to get through the next four years, but never forget that there are always things that you can do yourself to take a stand for the things you believe in and to make the world a better place in ways big and small.