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The journey to begin advocacy can feel overwhelming. Many questions arise. How do I start? What do I say? Does anyone want to hear from me? We recently asked Social Health Network members to share their best first steps:
“Let’s talk advocacy. For many, taking the first step to openly talk about what they’re going through can be intimidating. What advice do you have for others who are looking to share their health story or become an advocate themselves?”
A few common themes emerged.
Tell your story
The way to begin a journey with advocacy is by telling your story. Start where it is comfortable. Talk to friends. Start a blog or vlog. Put words to the experiences you live with chronic illness. Your story will resonate with others facing similar challenges.
“Telling your story takes practice. Look on social media to see how others are doing it and start building your community there too.” – jennheater
“I was intimidated at first about sharing my story. I didn’t think I had a story. I was newly diagnosed. I didn’t have much knowledge or experience with my disease. But it turns out, that was my story.” – plh4lisa
“Just be yourself. Speak your truth and from your heart and your story may just touch someone else or resonate with them.” – twistedpink
Sharing your story can be scary. It takes courage to share the ways chronic illness impacts your life. Taking the risk of being vulnerable will draw in others. It invites them to share authentically as well. Your community will learn from you, and you will learn from them.
“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable; your story may be a HUGE help to others!” – TheLupusDietician
“In order to share your story or become an advocate … you must be willing to be vulnerable and authentic. It could be scary at first because you might not be used to putting yourself out there, but once you decide to just be yourself and share what’s on your heart, that’s your story, and no one will be able to take that from you.” – The Genetic Diabetic
“Be genuine. Be empathetic to others. Realize that when you share, it’s not all about you, amplify other voices and experiences, and know there is a seat at the table for everyone.” – lightscameracrohns
“Becoming an advocate doesn’t mean people have the same reactions as you did. We learn as much from the people we advocate for as we did from our own experiences.” – RickRed52
No right or wrong approach
Everyone approaches advocacy differently. No 2 experiences are the same. Likewise, no 2 advocacy journeys are the same. How you choose to advocate is what is best for you. See where it leads!
“It’s up to you how much you share. If there is a specific topic or issue you want to share, do it. Everyone has something they are passionate about, share it.” – baldballerina
“There’s no wrong way to become an advocate. Find something you’re comfortable with. Even making yourself available for questions is part of advocacy.” – MustStopMS
“It’s ok to be afraid of the unknown. But be assured you are not alone. Speak from your heart about your journey. Others have been there too.” – Petey the Prostate Crusader