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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

College marks a newfound sense of independence for many people. Overnight you realize that you’re the one scheduling your doctor’s appointments, introducing yourself to strangers, and carving out a direction for your future. It can be an overwhelming time. I have let opportunities pass and did not speak up because I let my anxiety win. Over time, I have realized that it is crucial for me to advocate for myself in a variety of contexts so that I am getting what I need.

Self-advocacy is the ability to articulate one’s wants and needs and make informed decisions about the necessary support to meet them. It can include speaking up for yourself, staying informed, knowing your rights, finding support, asking for help, and taking control of your own life. This is not an easy skill and it can be a process of trial and error as you learn more about what you need and how to utilize resources and have discernment while attaining these things.

There are so many different opinions and methods when it comes to seeking advice for medical help, mental health, careers, and more. It is important to critically think and ask around before accepting the first hand you are lent. For example, just because a therapist has a degree and license does not mean they are the best fit for every person. The first step is becoming aware and staying in tune with yourself so you can recognize when you need something and what the best avenue is for you to get there.

I think a lot of people struggle with the speaking up portion out of fear. It is difficult going out of your comfort zone to try and seek advice or help. Professionals are getting paid for a reason so it is okay to go to them. It is also important to have an external support system that is always looking out for your best interest and can help you discern these things. Although self-advocacy requires autonomy and independence no one was made to go through all of these things alone.

Recently I have been doing a lot of planning for my future which has required me to reach out to professors, the career center, other students, and friends. I have received opportunities that I would not have had if I had not spoken up and asked difficult questions. I have come to realize that no one else is going to do these things for me so I have to step up to the plate. At times it can be frustrating, but I have shifted my perspective to realize how empowering it is to have self-determination.

Kim Mitchell is a member of the SBU Her Campus chapter. This is her second year writing for the site. Kim covers advice and experience pertaining to college life and emotional well-being. She also covers popular media such as trending telivision shows and books. Kim is currently a senior at St.Bonaventure University. She is pursuing a bachelor of arts in psychology and a spanish minor with aspirations to attain a masters in clinical mental health counseling. When she is not writing you can find Kim singing in her church's worship band, outside enjoying nature, or curled up with a good book. She is always down to challenge you in a game of Mario Kart, knowing full well she will probably be in last place.