How to Become an Activist (Spoiler: You Don't Have to Be Perfect)

So, you're craving a place in the movement? Perhaps you're interested in joining an activism group, a purpose higher than yourself. That's great, girl! I'm here to help.

After joining my local chapter of PFLAG (National) at the age of 16 and spending 6 years serving their Board of Directors helping to enhance the lives of and advocate for the LGBTQ community, I've learned a lot of life lessons and tricks about activism.

Starting off, I must share with you that activism work is NOT EASY. That being said, you don't need to be perfect! You just need to try. Most people will understand (and there will be ones who don't) that individuals in one set advocacy community are not all the same, although we are all reaching for the same goal.

You must mentally prepare yourself for those naysayers who disregard your work, think lowly of you and call you out for being different from them. This is a natural tension you will find in all activism groups, especially if your expression of advocacy does not meet stereotype. Everyone has a set idea of what "an activist" looks like... some more than others!

PICK THE MOVEMENT YOU'RE MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT

When it comes to activism work, it's vital that you choose the movement you are personally the most passionate about - not the one that is the most "trendy". You're not going to get anywhere as an activist unless you join a movement that you care about and perhaps have the most personal connection with. Picking something you've been impacted by is important.

Don't become an activist to simply become an activist. Do it to impact social change.

LEARN EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit - you can't know EVERYTHING, just most things. You must make it your mission to read up on the latest science, watch the newest documentaries, take classes and educate yourself about the issues tied to your movement of choice.

Of course, there will be biased opinion on both ends of the argument - be sure you read both and have an argument based in logic and factual research, in addition to good morals.

JOIN A LOCAL CHAPTER ORGANIZATION OR COLLECTIVE

When you feel like the time has come, join a local chapter of a nonprofit organization or a foundation helping to advance change in your area of focus. This is the easiest way to get involved on a grand scale and truly put wheels in motion.

Or, you could create your own!

GET INVOLVED AT THE POLITICAL LEVEL

Because a lot of activism movements do unfortunately include law making and politics, it's important that you get involved at the highest level possible - if you truly want to be a contributor to the movement! You gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk!

LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS + THOSE MORE EXPERIENCED

I promise you they have something good to say. While in turn, you must also be listened to and acknowledged, appreciating the work of those who came before you is key.

Yes, there will be a generational gap and perhaps you won't agree on everything, as sentiments tend to shift over time within any movement or cause, but there's something worth appreciating about each other.

LEAD WITH LOVE + PATIENCE

Most important above all is leading with understanding, care in your heart and of course, patience! If you don't have any of these, you will lose. The fight cannot be won without people of different backgrounds and stories attempting to understand each other and work together. Even if you fiercely disagree, you're all fighting for the same damn thing.

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BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN

Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating from The Evergreen State College (Washington) in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to all of life's problems + that all women should strive to embrace a #girlboss mantra.