I talk about advocacy a lot but it tends to be a weird experience each time. It’s not that I don’t like talking about it. It’s kind of like talking in the third person when it doesn’t exactly fit the situation.
Why am I an advocate?
-Because there’s a void and someone needed to fill it (or in my case try to fill it).
Do I like being an advocate?
-It depends on the day.
Did I set out to be an advocate?
-No. In fact I’ve done everything in my power to avoid it for years.
But here I am anyway.
Here’s what nobody tells you about advocacy, there are no rules.
Normally I really go for the “only rule is no rules” idea but advocacy one of those extenuating circumstances.
When you put yourself out there as an advocate you open yourself up to a lot. You’re trying to make a difference, and hopefully make the world a better place. However it’s not always a fun and positive experience. There’s always going to be someone(s) out there who wants to tear you down.
The best of intentions can also be dissolved in a heartbeat.
One of the biggest downsides of digital communication is inability to decipher tone. It creates a problem when sarcasm is one of your best traits. Have you ever been told to not use sarcasm in email? The same goes for blogging (or any other online medium) for the most part.
But it’s not the only downside.
It’s hard to put yourself out there as an expert when you feel like anything but. It’s even harder when people see you as an expert. There’s pressure to get it “right.” I don’t want to mislead people.
I’m an advocate, not an expert. Most advocates are in the same boat. But the lines can, and do, get blurred, and that’s really where things get tricky. If things don’t go as you “promised” then there’s backlash. Backlash hurts, and it hurts a lot of people.
There are lots of downsides to advocacy (but there are lots of upsides too).
Will I stop my advocacy pursuits?
-Hell no, but I wouldn’t turn down any supporters.
I never wanted to be an advocate and I don’t want to be even today. But someone needs to stand up (even if it’s sometimes figurative) and say what needs to be said, no matter how reluctant you are.
Are you a reluctant advocate?
*A similar version of this post was written on May 1, 2014
I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.