About a year ago, I started a new job, as an advocator: for myself. I had been in training several years prior. Yet I still find it to be the most challenging position I have ever held. I am constantly insecure about the results and although the pay can be tangible, it’s usually a payoff of something you cannot touch, only feel- peace and courage. I started actively advocating for myself because I finally accepted that if I didn’t, no one else would. I felt that my well-being and life’s journey were two things I couldn’t put in the hands of others. Although I cannot control everything in life, I could at least vocalize my wants, desires and needs. Advocating for myself means I can say “no” without feeling guilty. It makes the activities and relationships I participate in more meaningful, because I am finally now grasping that I have a choice. I don’t have to sit by idly and begrudgingly do things I don’t like or want to do. This doesn’t mean I have become a flake, it means I am much more sincere about what I do in life. There is a new level of honesty that comes with advocating for myself. Whether it’s choosing not to go to a party I had previously said I would attend, knowing I was never really interested. Or me telling my book club that although I would love to have our next meeting at a great, but pricey restaurant, it was out of my budget. Or awkwardly telling a guy I’m dating that, I’m not just dating for weekend fun, I want something more serious and substantial. I live more fully now. I refer to this as a job, because it is not easy. It gets easier with practice, but I still get butterflies in my stomach. A lot of times, I would much rather go to my corner of the world and hide in my shell until life’s challenges and storms blow over. Over the years I have built up a very avoidant personality which makes it my go-to plan of action. So it does take a lot of work to psych myself up to say what needs to be said. The text message sent to my friend about not attending the party was edited several times before I actually found the right words and hit send. That e-mail I sent to my book club friends, took days and counsel from another friend on the importance of being truthful, before I could type out what needed to be said. In both scenarios, I had cringe-worthy wait-times as I constantly checked my phone for a response. Sometimes I still get the sense that I will be rejected or ridiculed. I feel as though my truth may be met with an eye-roll and it would be best to suck it up and push through in spite of my true feelings. But that’s part of the work and the first thing to get over, is what others will think of you. I fully embrace advocating for myself. I have actually said to people in a conversation or during an argument, that “I need to advocate for myself”. The more I say it, the more real it becomes for me. So I keep working at this job because, practice does make perfect.