EWAB

Self Advocacy

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When I first started my vlog/blog, I only told a few close people. I was embarrassed by my desires, especially with something as fickle as entering the social/internet media space. As I continued creating and grew in my experience, I started to gain confidence enough to advocate for my pursuit of writing and vlogging as a career. This took patience and persistence. Still, I do struggle with advocating for myself both in my goals and as a person. That is why I decided this would be a perfect topic for this week’s “Monday” Motivation. It’s also important for me to note that this topic plays a role not just in the Goals aspect of BANG, but also as an extension of Body Love. Standing-up for your right to happiness, health, and existence in the body you have now is another way that we can show our bodies love. 

Why it’s important

I had been putting off finishing this post because I kept feeling like I had more to say, but couldn’t quite put it into words. Then I stumbled upon something written by my sophomore year World History AP Teacher wrote in her Reality Check Fairy Guide

“Remember, self-advocating means that you are using your voice to approach problems that you face head-on instead of enlisting the direct assistance of a third party. That means you take care of your own business, without relying on someone else to step in and save the day. You are in control and you need to practice self-advocating.”

Though I am long out of high school, I still felt this resonated with what I wanted to say in this post. Self-Advocating isn’t just about standing up for yourself when you are wronged. It is about standing up for your needs, beliefs, and dreams. No one is ever going to want your goals to come true as much as you are. That is why you need to be your own advocate for these things. Also, this isn’t just advocating for achieving your goals either. It’s also a form of body/self-love. As you begin to flex the self-advocation muscle, you begin to show yourself more and more that you are worthy of standing up for. 

Why I struggle

I’d be lying if I said that advocating for myself came easily all the time. It is honestly something I struggle with, and that I am working on. I think the most common reason we choose not to self-advocate is because of people-pleasing. We don’t want to rock-the-boat or make anyone uncomfortable, even if we are uncomfortable ourselves. We just don’t want to be seen as an inconvenience. I think picking and choosing your battles is an important skill, but not if the issue is consistent and needs to be addressed. For example, as a plus-size person seating is sometimes an issue that people in smaller bodies rarely have to think about. Having to advocate for me in this way on planes, in restaurants, or at stadiums can sometimes be difficult, especially when staff is not always trained in how to handle these types of situations. Accommodations are not always available or offered to be made. 

This leads to another reason self-advocacy is difficult that I don’t feel is discussed enough. Shame and guilt are powerful emotions that can often steer us away from standing up for ourselves. It can be embarrassing to ask for a seat belt extender or to switch tables, but I deserve comfort and safety no matter my size. In my work, I try to reduce the stigma around things like this, but in some cases, its easier said than done. However, I make it a point to give myself grace with this. I am only a year into my body positivity journey, and I am still building confidence to stand up for myself in this way. I understand these are not issues everyone reading this will relate to, but that’s usually why we are ashamed to self-advocate. We feel isolated in our struggles. However, if we start talking about these things and start self-advocating when we need to, we can create a space for others who do share our struggle to rise up and advocate for themselves too. The more we talk about this the less power we give to shame and guilt over us. 

How to self-advocate

Hopefully, in reframing self-advocacy in the light mentioned about is the first step in advocating for ourselves. I also found this video below Kati Morton, LMFT that has some extra tools you can use to better assert yourself: 

Did you find this helpful? Do you struggle with self-advocacy? What are some ways you can practice advocating for yourself? Let me know in the comments!

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