On self advocacy

First off, apologies for the long hiatus. These past few months have been an undertaking, bringing me to the subject I want to talk about: self advocacy.

In short, self advocacy is the ability to advocate, or stand up for oneself and ones own beliefs. I think it runs much deeper than that. For me, self advocacy is pretty synonymous with self care. Without being able to stand up for myself, I’m not able to take care of myself. As a teen, and talking to people my age, it’s become obvious that self advocacy is ridiculously important. Its valuable politically, in your professional life, for your health, and in your personal life.

I’m gonna start off with politics. Often times, our ideas aren’t seen as valid. The younger someone is, the less informed people assume they are. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I know 17 year olds who have organized protests and who read the proposed tax bill for fun. As the people inheriting everything that is happening right now, our ideas are just as valid as those of the people creating the problems.

Even though some of us can’t vote, our voices are valuable. Stay informed about issues that concern you, back up your opinions with facts, and stay levelheaded. Your passion and your ideas are valid. Use them for good.

Professionally it can be hard to stand up for yourself. Young people usually don’t have a lot of work experience and most likely you haven’t been at a job for too long. We’re new to the workforce and that can be scary. It can be hard to say no, or know when you’re being taken advantage of. Again, educate yourself and know your rights.

Self-advocacy is super important when it comes to your health as well. Again, we’re new to making our own opinions and these new things like figuring out insurance can be scary. That being said, its still super important that you have a say in your healthcare. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, its probably better that you do. You have the right to get a second opinion if you feel like it. If you feel like you are not being treated with respect, you can always change providers.

For any LGBTQ+ (or not) youth out there, there is something called a Q card. These can be lifesavers in a doctors office. All they are is a business card you can fill out that has your sexual orientation, gender identity, and any questions that you might have. All you have to do is fill it out and hand it to your healthcare provider. Most misunderstandings are avoided. You can find them here.

Finally, and most importantly, your personal life. You have the right to say no and you owe it to yourself to practice self-care. The ability to understand what your needs are and communicate them to others is the most important skill you will learn. Your health and wellbeing should be top priority. Remember: self care is never selfish.

Stay safe and educated out there!

Every good wish,

Julia

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