How Advocacy Saved My Life

March 07, 2024
This story took place in United States

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Advocacy and organizing became the lifelines that saved me from the depths of despair and provided a pathway to healing and resilience at a time where I most needed solace and comfort. These acts of being not only shaped my mindset in my own life but also in the lives of others who found themselves navigating similar challenges.

My journey into advocacy and organizing was born out of a profound sense of isolation and despair as a young person who found difficulty in obtaining resources in what seemed like a systemic issue for the community. Struggling with health issues and facing societal stigmas, it was easy to feel silenced and fall into despair. However, as I grew to recognize those emotions, I believe there was a yearning desire to step into a journey that would ultimately become the cornerstone of my survival—advocacy was the mechanism to promote my sense of autonomy. 

I began with the simple act of speaking out. Be it on issues pertaining to taking steps of courage and using my voice for a class project or even choosing to voice my opinion on social injustices, I found that doing so broke the chains of silence. In doing so, I realized the transformative power of vulnerability and sharing one’s story. Advocating for oneself is tied to being honest and vulnerable with others, which had resonated with many who had experienced similar events or were willing to listen when they hadn’t. In turn, advocacy turned into representing the notion that I could break the chain of struggles and hidden emotions that had weighed me down. 

As I entered college, I found myself closely and deliberately finding avenues that would strengthen my experience and commitment towards my community. I would later join a role that would require me to organize meetings and events for students and families who, like me, faced unique adversities, and I believe it was then where I recognized how organizing can only work if there is collectivism. In my current time, organizing campaigns and initiatives on social justice issues are pivotal to collective and self-wellbeing.

Through mental health, anti-bullying, and children’s rights advocacy, my journey focused on the realization that our experiences in communities are not isolated, but rather part of a larger narrative that deserves attention and action. Community events and participatory engagement became the foundation for sharing pain and building resilience. One’s actions and words can provide a sense of purpose to their entire lives. I remember that making mental health kits and delivering them to youth in my city brought a blissful sense of joy that could not be attained elsewhere. 

Over time, you can see that staying true to what you feel is right can make a long term and meaningful impact. Although it requires time and energy towards having dialogue with policymakers and stakeholders, the impact of pushing for legislative and institutional changes that would prioritize mental health care and ensure accessible resources can be fruitful and rewarding. Even the smallest rewards, such as creating accessible support groups and healing circles, sparked conversations that felt long overdue and allowed for members to pitch in on what solutions they thought would fit for their hometowns. 

In the midst of advocating for others, I found unexpected healing in the process. In taking the position of making materials, demanding action, and working with different members of the community, it strengthened my resolve to work in a space that would commit towards collective action and believed in the agency that each person has the potential to bring to the table. 

I truly believe that advocacy and organizing were not merely instruments of change in my life, but that they were the lifelines that set me on a trajectory of healing and resilience. Through the transformative power of shared stories, collective action, and systemic change, advocacy and organizing became the driving force behind a movement that aimed to reshape the narrative surrounding social justice issues that I found important. As I continue on this journey, I am reminded that the power to heal lies not only within ourselves but in the connections we forge and the collective voice that emerges when we stand together.

Check out these organizations to learn more how you can join, support, and learn advocacy related measures:

Advocates for Youth

United Way Worldwide

Youth Engaged 4 Change

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