Do these words all the mean the same thing to you? Can someone be an advocate and an antagonist at the same time?
I find myself asking these questions as of late. You see, I am someone who cannot sit aside when something happens that goes against my core values and principles. Ironic for someone who grew up hiding in the shadows, staying silent and hoping that no one noticed me.
Things changed drastically for me when my 15 year, emotionally abusive relationship ended. Then not long after I had the life-altering news that I was officially Deaf-Blind aka disabled. During these times I learned that you have to look out for yourself. You have to speak up. No one else is going to do it. Sure, you may get help and support along the way but it is up to you to get that ball rolling. Speaking up for yourself is, for me, like coming out of a fog.
Like anything in life, if you don’t put in the effort then essentially you are doing nothing. Do people really want to go through life like that? Ah, don’t answer that question, I already know the answer. It’s yes, people really do want to go through life doing nothing. And that is actually what lead me to write this.
Since I’ve started ‘raising my voice’ I’ve noticed a lot of people around me are baffled. Appalled even. “Oh Pam, there you go starting trouble again.” “Pam, maybe you should just not say anything and let it be.” “Ah, here’s the resident trouble maker”…
Recently (and not the first time), I sat down and wrote a letter compiling all the complaints and concerns that most everyone around me in my community had voiced. Then I posted that letter in a forum and sent it off to the “powers that be” to advocate for all of us.
“Fitting in is assessing and acclimation. “Here is what I should say”, “Here’s what I shouldn’t say”…Brene Brown
No one had asked me to do that. I wasn’t asking for support or compliments, but when the dust settled, I couldn’t help but notice that the very people who I had been talking and listening patiently to complain among themselves, had suddenly just disappeared. Poof! Just like that. Not one of those people backed me. Complete silence.
Tell me, because I genuinely want to know, what is the point of complaining or getting angry amongst yourselves but then staying silent when it really matters? What is wrong with adding your voice with another?
Is speaking out really that hard? Is fitting in and never going against the grain really how you want to be remembered?
Brene Brown said it best…
“Fitting in is assessing and acclimating “here what I should say” “here’s what I shouldn’t say” here’s what I should wear” dress like/look like/talk about. Belonging is belonging to yourself first. Seeking your truth, telling your story, never betraying yourself for other people. True belonging never requires you to change who you are. It allows you to be who you are.”
I am not angry at these people. If someone chooses to not say anything at all because that is what they are comfortable with that is their decision. But if people continue to complain and be upset after they have had the chance to have their voice heard well then that, to me, is just the very definition of Insanity.
“ Insanity: is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But as I said at the beginning of this post I have to look out for me. Do what is best for me. If I advocated for something (and won) and you got the benefits of it without supporting the cause then good for you, but you are on your own now.