What does it mean to be an advocate?

You might think it means protesting in Washington, D.C. with signs and a megaphone, but it’s much simpler than that.

Being an advocate means you’re willing to speak up about issues that matter to you and become part of the solution. That could be a policy issue, but it could also be a career move or a healthier lifestyle for your family.

In any case, you are your own best advocate. There are practical ways to make your voice heard that have a lasting impact.

Here are three ways to be a strong advocate for yourself and your community:

  1. Stay informed – If you want to be a good baseball player, you need to start by knowing the rules of the game. In the same way, if you want to be a good advocate, you need to know what you’re talking about. If you want to see a change in your town’s government, get to know the players involved and what their positions are on the issue you want to change. If you’re looking for a new job, get to know the industry and the companies you’re applying to so you have a knowledgeable background. The internet is your best friend for good research and getting up to speed.
  2. Get involved – It’s not as easy as just having all the knowledge. You need to act on what you know. Getting involved can be just about anything – joining the Parent Teacher Association at your child’s school, volunteering at an animal shelter or writing letters to lawmakers. Being active shows people that you’re not willing to sit back and let things happen. You want to see action!
  3. Vote – Voting is the most fundamental part of being an advocate. We’re blessed to live in a country where our voices and opinions truly count. Don’t waste that! Get out to vote in local, state and national elections, but make sure you know who and what you’re voting for. Read up on ballot initiatives and candidates to clearly understand the positions. Lawmakers make decisions that affect your life, so make sure you’re helping guide those decisions.

These skills can help you put your best foot forward, educate yourself on issues you care about and raise your voice. Try out some of these tips in your community!

Learn more about speaking up and speaking out from Bridge to Wellbeing.