As I enter adulthood and gain independence, I’m more nervous and overwhelmed with my responsibilities. I’m learning to be a better advocate for myself by speaking up instead of suppressing my demands. Advocacy impacts me because it helps me express my concerns and fight for what’s right. It’s about empowering your voice to get what you wish as a human being.
I never thought I could make it because of my mental health disorder. I suffer from agoraphobia, a mental health condition that develops when anxiety makes you fear and avoid places and situations that might cause you panic, entrapment, or helplessness. I felt lost in life. I felt stuck in life and pointless before I learned that those are just emotions and feelings.
I often felt imprisoned because I fear being out in public. I was scared of experiencing the world and being around others. I tensed up when I was outside the house. I was overwhelmed, and despair built up, leaving me vulnerable. My only safe space was inside my home because I could control what happened there. But that safety and comfort were temporary because it limited me from living, pursuing my dreams, and connecting with others.
At some point in my life, I felt many of my goals weren’t attainable because of my learning challenges, as it took me a little longer to receive information and grasp lessons because of my mental health condition. Now I know that people understand situations differently and at their own pace. I discovered that things in life take time. It may take longer to reach a goal, but you can still accomplish whatever you want. We often doubt ourselves as humans, but self-confidence and strength are powerful tools to help us push through obstacles and improve. Having the strength to move past a barrier and stand up for yourself is a part of mastering advocacy for yourself.
Advocacy, for me, created self-independent ownership. Now that I’m an adult, I’m supporting myself by changing initiatives, expressing my views on topics, subjects, and wishes, standing up for my rights, and making an impact. This required a great deal of patience and perseverance because advocacy is about implementing change. In the past, I’ve been on the Redlich Horwitz Foundation Parent & Youth Advisory Board, which helps the child welfare community by granting funding to two organizations that are providing services to transitional-age foster youth. I also advocated for myself by speaking up and joining workshop groups and research projects. Additionally, I recently became a SHINE Ambassador for the YAI Organization, where I’m educating people like me with intellectual, developmental, and mental disabilities and sharing the launch of their website regarding sexual education toolkits.
I never thought I’d be where I am today because I advocated for myself. There will be days when you must fight and be grateful for how far you have come. Sometimes, it has to rain for you to see the sunshine. Boundaries help you honor and respect your emotional, psychological, and physical needs. Only you will know when you are ready to take the next step. Transitioning into adulthood can be challenging. Everyone deals with different battles. But remember, this is only a chapter of your story and testimony. Be the voice for the next generation. We can, and we will persevere!