10 Little Things: Self-Advocacy Edition

10 Little Things: Self-Advocacy Edition

"Improvement begins with I."

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I recently started a self-improvement series I like to call 10 Little Things: because the biggest changes in life have to start somewhere small. This week, I'm focusing on a self-care topic that seems to go overlooked quite often-- self-advocacy.

The simple definition of self-advocacy is "the act or condition of representing oneself", but I think the true meaning of this phrase goes a little deeper. Being your own advocate means being honest with yourself, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and generally being your own biggest fan. NO ONE is going to be able to help you grow if you're not willing to help yourself. A little self-love and motivation goes a long way when it comes to self-improvement. Read on for 10 Little Things you can do to start being your own advocate.

1. Be big enough to admit when you've messed up...

When things go wrong--whether it's a bad grade or a bad argument--it's not always someone else's fault. Excuses are never going to get you anywhere. Being aware of your own mistakes and shortcomings will benefit you more in the long run.

2. ...but stand up for yourself when you know you haven't!

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to defend yourself--especially when it's to a friend. It's okay to forgive and forget, but it's not okay to let others walk all over you. Know your worth.

3. Do ONE scary thing a day.

At least. Your comfort zone is something you should always aim to expand. It can be as simple as forcing yourself to talk on the phone or as challenging as introducing yourself at a networking event. Embrace the uncomfortable! You'll feel pretty kick-ass.

4. Practice your "Elevator Pitch".

If you haven't heard of this before, now's your chance.This should be something that's always in your back-pocket! An elevator pitch is a 30 second summary of yourself--your major, your career aspirations, your interests, etc.--that you use to talk to professionals. You never know when you're going to have an opportunity to make a new contact. Be prepared to sell yourself!

5. On that note, don't sell yourself short.

You are smarter and more capable than you think you are, trust me. If you don't brag about yourself (at least a little) to employers, who's going to?

6. Learn the art of eye contact.

In today's digital world, the confidence to look directly in someone's eyes during a conversation does NOT go unnoticed! It can be kind of uncomfortable at first if you're not used to it, but it is a quick and easy way to start feeling like a real professional.

7. Have a PROPER handshake.

There is nothing worse than having a "dead-fish" handshake when you're trying to make a good first impression. Whoever you are introducing yourself to will NOT forget it. Firm, 2 shakes. Trust me on this.

8. Kick self-deprecating jokes to the curb.

I've written about this particular topic before, but it's worth reiterating. You won't realize how much of an effect this is having on your confidence until you actively choose not to use it. Don't take yourself TOO seriously, but know when to stop making fun of yourself.

9. Dress for success.

This doesn't necessarily mean wearing heels daily--it means dressing for the YOU you want to be. Find out what makes you feel polished and comfortable and strive to incorporate it into your daily wardrobe.

10. Celebrate the little victories.

Every step forward--no matter how small--is a step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself for what you've already accomplished!

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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I Wish People Would Stop Commenting On My Height, I Get It, I'm Tall

Is this such a tall order?

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I've spent the better part of the last 20 years of my life wishing I was shorter. Sure, at 5'11" I'm not that tall, but for as much as people talk about it, it sure feels like it is. I have only recently started to feel comfortable with my height and not feel insecure about it all the time. As one can imagine, it's pretty annoying when the first thing people say when meeting you is, "oh my, you're so tall!" as if I don't already know this information. Some people will even do it more subtly by asking, "how tall are you?" I never ask my short friends this, so why me??

First off, it makes me feel uncomfortable when people mention my height because I don't like talking about it. "Wow, you're so tall! I bet you played basketball!" You know what? As a matter of fact, I did! Thanks for bringing up this useless information!

Basketball

As I said previously, I have accepted being tall and am usually not insecure about it anymore, but it's a little hard not to think about it when pretty much every new person I meet mentions something about it. I've always subconsciously slouched when I'm standing because standing up straight makes everyone hyperaware of how tall I am, including myself.

Posture

The WORST part of it all is when I hear the classic, "Ugh I wish I was as tall as you!"

As someone who has struggled with being insecure about their height their entire life, this is super annoying. Being taller than half the boys in your grade is not fun. Having to slouch in class because I'm afraid the person behind me can't see is not fun. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable with how they look, so be confident in who you are!

All in all, I wish people would start focusing on other traits about me before talking about my height. I am now confident in my height and don't think about it as much, so it would be ideal if I wasn't reminded of it all the time.

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