The Activist's Friend

My whole life I have been shy. Since getting a job and becoming more active on campus, I have grown out of this slightly. However, I was still nervous when I went to the march. I am nervous when I table. I am nervous at every lobby day that I attend, and do not tell family members that it is in fact a lobby day. It is hard for me to be what is considered a true activist. My friends, who I admire so much, have “activist” in their bios. In times during which I’ve been tempted to do the same I stop myself; I don’t stage protests, I don’t begin movements, I am too afraid to use my voice as loudly as I am able to. Surely, I am not an activist. Certainly not in the way that they are. I have decided that too many authority figures like me for this to be anything but true.

I have to employ my own brand of activism: turning the gatekeeping of politics and academics on their sides and using it to uplift others and change from within. While I don’t receive direct criticism for this line of thought, I am not blind. I see people I admire, true activists, sharing tweets with the sentiment that to join the system that you dislike is unhelpful. I agree… if you’re joining a system with the intention of upholding the problematic status quo. While I don’t have the courage to be a traditional (awesome, radical) activist -- and shouldn’t feel any pressure to if I feel that my own anxieties overpower that -- I am going to graduate. I am going to go to law school. I am going to use the system to defend people who have not received the same opportunities. I am going to run for a judgeship (yes, in my red state) and add fairness to the way current justices (you know, all those old white conservative men!) interpret the constitution. I can alter the way that document is amended by potentially running for other offices and helping to create and pass bills (yes, I understand that this is nowhere near as easy as I am making it sound).

When I feel like I am doing so little now I think about the future. I am not one of those amazing young women already making waves while in school. Right now I am the status quo so that I can later change it. It is discouraging, but it is what I can do. I am more than just the activist’s friend.