I received such nice feedback about the clip. "You're such a good mom. What a wonderful advocate. You're so articulate. You looked so great, especially the white coat!". Lovely, heartfelt compliments that I truly did, and do, appreciate. But the truth is, none of that news clip illustrates Real Advocacy.
Real Advocacy is not a news clip. Or a perfectly styled family photo shoot for a print donation campaign. Or a pre-recorded video for a telethon. Or a newspaper spread. Or any of the "public facing" advocacy we've been featured in. And not to take anything away from that - we always have been, and will continue to be, happy to share our story in order to help others relate. But it's not the true part of where my Real Advocacy is focused.
Real Advocacy is found behind the scenes. Usually late in the evening when the kids have gone to bed, or early in the morning after tossing and turning all night. It's found in endless emails and phone calls. It's found in having to step outside yourself and be the bad guy when your natural instinct is to be the likeable one who doesn't stir things up. It's found in grant writing and applications. It's found in going above someone's head when they haven't been professional. It's found in sometimes boring, sometimes pointless meetings. It's found in seemingly endless bureaucracy.
But mostly, it's found in tears. Anxiety. Stress. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Defeat. And sometimes self-pity, despite your best intentions. It's also found in regret and self-doubt when you worry you may not have done enough.
In short, nothing about Real Advocacy looks pretty. And worst of all, it definitely doesn't feel pretty.
So next time (and I can pretty much promise you there will be a next time) you see one or more of us advocating in a way that looks shiny, confident, and articulate, enjoy it along with us. But try to remember that the Real Advocacy happens quietly, tearfully, and very unceremoniously in the background.