“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.” ~ Samantha Power
It is, isn’t it? Why do you advocate for someone? Why do you speak for someone who is unable to speak out for themselves? What is the sense in it? You may not have named it yet, but if you are a sensitive soul who can know and feel what others are experiencing, you likely live a life that includes advocacy.
When we think of advocates, empaths may not be the first kind of person that comes to mind. We usually are not attention seeking people, though we often find ourselves on the front lines. The struggling and the wounded are drawn to us because we see them.
The hard part for empaths is to see and to help without being crushed in the process. You have to find your niche. And you have to recognize your capacity and your limits. Your compassion needs to be strong with a healthy balance. You need to know how much you personally can and cannot handle.
Many empaths are drawn to the helping professions, myself included. My niche is with children. I teach children. I am not a mainstream classroom teacher, however. I teach the strugglers. Sometimes, the hard cases. Sometimes, the misunderstood ones. Language, poverty, special needs come with this territory.
My compassion, understanding, and empathy are my greatest tools. When a child feels safe, loved, and supported, they will make great gains in school. My job is to ensure this – to advocate on a daily basis with the wider school community because often “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
If you are a parent, you are automatically an advocate as well. Depending on your child, your role may be lesser or greater. Even so, as empaths, we do not like conflict. (It feels like everyone’s insides are yelling!) However, we will quietly and firmly come forth to speak out for our own children as much as is needed.
An advocate is part of who I am, just as being an empath is. I didn’t seek out this role, it sought me out. I just needed the courage to own it. You too.