In Part One, we looked at the ways that you can stay engaged and focused throughout your advocacy work to make the most of your time and energy. But there are a lot of emotions and ups and downs that go along with this work and planning and focusing are sometimes not going to save you from difficult times.
When we’re talking about a community of advocates, there are several different types of communities that you will want to be a part of and can draw from for support. Overall, there will be all of the advocates working for this cause throughout your own area, country and the world that you can share resources with, can draw on for information and inspiration and together the more people you have behind a cause, the more likely it is to succeed in its goals.
You will also want to create a community of people that you work with on a local level. You might choose to volunteer with one organization or could spread your efforts around to many different groups. Within this community, you will hopefully be led by seasoned advocates with at least some lived experience. These will be the people that you look to for direction and these are the voices that should be uplifted and amplified whenever possible.
But you should also have a smaller community of people who are coming into this cause and fight with a similar position to your own. These are people who you can learn alongside and can share your concerns, struggles and hardships with a someone doing advocate work. As we have mentioned, there is no avoiding that this work can be difficult, tiring and frustrating. You will need people to vent to, to problem solve with and to just understand along the way.
Why does this need to be people in a similar position to you? For the answer to this, you might want to refresh on the part of the Allyship 101 Workshop where we talked about the Comfort In and Dump Out system of dealing with trauma and grief. This method explains that it is not advised to “dump out” (which means getting emotional, complaining or otherwise expressing our own negative experiences) with people who are closer to an issue than we are ourselves. Those closest to an issue already experience the most trauma. It is better to allow them to use that space and time to let out their own feelings, rather than putting our own onto them.
When you have your own small group of people in a similar position to your own, there can be the freedom and openness to dump out whatever you are feeling, while you allow them to do the same. That way, you can get reenergized to better work towards change and can be there if those most affected need additional support.
Like with any other part of your life, it is important to practice self care when doing advocacy work. This will likely mean a combination of trying to manage your time so that you don’t exhaust yourself, being kind to yourself when you make a mistake or don’t have all of the information that you need, and actually taking some time for yourself when you need it.
Doing advocacy work does not mean that you have to spend every last ounce of your energy on supporting other people. It is also important to support yourself and make sure that you have the things that you need to continue helping and speaking up for others.
If you’re looking for some tips on self care and why it is so important, check out our articles on the topic. These will help get you in the right mindset to set aside some time for your own needs and might help you determine what areas of self care would be most useful to you.