My math teacher recently had me consider decision fatigue in a probability lesson. Sometimes one feels exhausted choosing music, food, tv shows, clothes, and books. Over time these little things add up and overwhelm me. Making so many trivial choices leaves no space for the bigger questions, like decision making when one has so many opportunities for advocacy. You may love animals, but you only have so much free time. It goes without saying that most people can’t save the rhinos and the whales, help orangutans, foster stray dogs, and remind everyone to keep plastics out of the oceans all at once.
Here are some tips on managing these decisions:
- Choose your cause
Choose an organization that has personal meaning so you stay interested. The environment, disability rights, politics, and social justice are all causes one can get involved in, but only if you like any of these. Try to find the one that gives you joy when advocating for it. Once you select an area of interest, narrow it down. Educational access, alternatives to ABA therapy, and reading books for blind people all involve disabilities, one of my interests. I joined the I-ASC Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network because it impacts me personally.
- Define your goals
Each person will have their own reasons for getting involved. Maybe school has requirements but try not to think of it only as another burden you have to do. Break down your big goals into smaller actionable steps so that you are less overwhelmed. It might help to use a planner to keep track of these goals. Manage opportunities for leadership and mentoring- you might learn amazing skills. One of my goals is to keep improving my presentation skills. S&A has helped with this goal.
- Get friends involved
Everything is more fun with a team of like-minded friends. Ask others to join you or find out which causes your friends already support. If your interests don’t align, keep true to your passions, and you will meet new friends. Ask people to spread the word in other circles you might not have immediate access to so that the group you’re advocating for doesn’t have to do everything themselves.
- Monitor your time and health.
Not everyone makes time for taking care of themselves, but this is extremely important. Advocating requires energy, and if you burn out too soon, you can’t save the world. Pace yourself and make it a lifelong habit.
Let’s all find a way to make a difference!
Sofia Ghassaei is an active member of the Spellers and Allies Advocacy Network. Her poems and writings have been published in Teen Creative magazine, Neuroclastic, and presented at the Boards and Chords Music Festival, Neurolyrical Cafe, and SpellX. Her first play, Words Unheard, was performed by the Theater of Possibility in 2022. She was one of five writers internationally selected for the 2022-23 Lynx Amplify Project, which pairs autistic poets with composers to set their words to music. Her second play, Love Letters, A True-ly Short Epistolary Romance, will be playing in Seattle this June. Sofia uses a letterboard to communicate.