Thank You, President Obama.
Most of my defining years, where I developed my core beliefs, occurred during the Bush years as I was a stupid college student. I spent a lot of time arguing with people over human rights, international strength, and trade policy. I fundamentally believed that the glory of our country was our belief in democracy, truth, and justice. Even when I disagreed with President Bush, I admired his hope for this country. I just did not believe his policy decisions were right.
Before you were elected President, I was in my mid-twenties, just finished law school, and had to move back home to live with my parents due to my student loan debts. I was able to find work in early 2008 but more than 60% of my monthly pay went to those loans, so I remained at home. I also had not fully accepted who I was and suffered severe depression and anxiety. I cannot say that I was living a full or satisfying life. I generally would dream of living a content life and not a happy life.
When you were elected, I found hope in policy, our country, and myself. I cried when they announced on TV that you crossed the Electoral College threshold. I believed in this country and the goodness of our nation. I believed that my differences were not going to be my defining characteristics or a weight that had to hang around my neck. I believed the same about my future.
Eight years later, I fell in love and accepted who I am, continued working at that same job that gave me a chance, and moved into my own home. I used the strength that your voice, your actions, and your family demonstrated to develop my own inner strength. You had your faults, you made decisions I disagreed with, and there were many times I shook my head wondering what you were thinking. But any time you came on the television, I was proud of my country.
You have provided me with more than I thought possible from a political leader and I will forever owe you my gratitude. As we enter a very frightening period, I vow to not fall back into the depression and fear that crippled me before. I will use my strength that you showed me I had to fight because I can and because we can.
I will stand up.