The topic for the February DSMA Blog Carnival is: “Advocacy is a topic that is often discussed in the Diabetes Online Community. Can you be one and not even know it? What is your definition of an advocate?”
Until recently, most of my thoughts about advocacy were laced with guilt. I’ve spent a good bit of my life “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk”. I’ve been reluctant to advocate publicly for fear that the continuing responsibility of taking a stance would be more than I wanted to handle. I have been quick to criticize myself for being one who rides on the coat tails of the Real Advocates in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC).
Early November 2013 was a low point for me. November is Diabetes Awareness Month and many members of the DOC undertake huge projects to show their commitment to advocacy. As a relatively new blogger, I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of informational posts, photo projects, and tributes to diabetes heroes. I felt like a total slacker. By mid-month, my self-criticism mellowed a bit and I took a realistic assessment of what I had done and what I was doing. My 11/15/13 blogpost convinced me that although I wasn’t an established leader in the DOC, I was slowly becoming comfortable participating in advocacy projects.
I think that “advocacy” is taking something you believe in out into the world. Beliefs are easy. Sharing them with others is harder. Crusading to turn your beliefs into reality is harder still.
I find advocacy terrifying. In his “What is an advocate?” post, Stephen of Happy-Medium stated that “An advocate is not someone who is afraid of the word “advocacy“. I disagree with Stephen. I am slowing morphing into an advocate and I’m still terrified of the word. Once you move your convictions from the comfort of your brain and the safety of your soul to the outside world, there is no going back. The doors are wide open and you’re out there to stay.
On November 1, 2013 I would have said that I was not an advocate. People like Scott Johnson would have tried to convince me that I was wrong with the argument that telling my story as a blogger was enough to grant me membership in the “A Club“. My two co-bloggers, Sue from New York and Sue from Pennsylvania, would have called me an advocate because of the behind-the-scenes work that I was doing to help them with blogposts, graphics, and logistics. Many of my friends, both D and non-D, would have awarded me advocacy status because of my active lifestyle showing what is possible with and despite diabetes.
Frankly I think that I became an advocate on February 11, 2014. That is the day that I sent a letter to my family and some of my friends asking them to participate in the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign. My first blogpost about Spare a Rose was easy to write because I knew that most of the readers would be members of the DOC. That’s not advocacy. They already knew about it and supported it. I wrote a good post, but I was just going through the motions. It was advocacy when I pinned a scarlet “A for Advocacy” on my chest and wrote a second post to spread the message to the larger world.
I disagree with people who say that I have been an advocate for a long time despite my opinion that I wasn’t. I was a believer; I was a follower; I worked on projects. In my mind I did not become an advocate until I was able to look in the mirror and say “You are an Advocate.” I did not become an advocate until I was brave enough to say to others “This is what I believe and I am proud and strong enough to share my beliefs with you.”
This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2014/02/february-dsma-blog-carnival-3/
Great perspective, Laddie,and thank you for being brave enough to talk about it. I think there is a huge amount of advocacy in just living life with diabetes and telling our story. As you mention, that’s a conversation you and I have had many times. 🙂
Thank you for being who you are, and doing what you do, Laddie. You and your awesome advocacy efforts are very much appreciated.
Thanks, Scott. You’re probably listed as a leader and cheerleader in everyone’s discussions about advocacy.
Laddie… you disagree with me? I’m crushed! Even though I really just want to remove the fear that comes with using that word, I’m glad to see not only the efforts, but the result of your advocacy. I’m glad your voice is part of this community, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Thanks!
Stephen, I don’t disagree with you very often! Usually I read your posts and wish that I could express myself half as well.
What a great blog. As you know, I am a very private person and when I started on this journey, it scared the hell out of me to become a public one. It’s with the guidance that you gave me, that I was able to come out of my comfort zone and become an Advocate. I always considered you an Advocate as well. What a surprise that you didn’t consider yourself as one. Every blog that you write makes you more and more an Advocate. It doesn’t matter whether it goes to the general public or the DOC. As long as your voice is heard somewhere, to me that’s Advocacy. It doesn’t matter what the subject is…you bring attention to the plight of the diabetic and that is what is so important. So keep on doing what you are doing. You are not only an Advocate but you are definitely my mentor. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without you. You are one terrific woman.
Thank you, Sue. I have learned so much watching you go public with your convictions and you are a hero to me. Thanks for your support and friendship.
Reblogged this on The Daily Advocate By Painspeaks.
I think you were an advocate way before you felt like one. You took it upon yourself to reach out to me to welcome me to the DOC and provided me with invaluable resources and open arms. That is an advocate. I appreciate you! (and the entire DOC! so helpful!) I agree that advocacy is scary because it seems overwhelming, but I think it is quickly replaced by excitement once you realize you advocate at your own pace and within your own comfort zone. Keep doing what you’re doing Laddie!
Thanks, Cecelia. I had Type 1 for 36 years before I started blogging. It certainly didn’t take you that long!
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