So many of us are feeling downright appalled by the direction our country is heading these days. It seems like so much is happening at once. Injustice after injustice are being rolled out at lightning speed. And these are issues that affect us all: education, health care, women’s rights, racial inequality, global warming — the list feels absolutely endless.
For the first time, many of us realize change lies in our hands. We need to make our voices heard, and we need to take action — today, and probably every day for the next four years. But for those of us who are introverts, the idea of doing many of the things that it takes to be an activist is pretty much terrifying.
Cold-calling politicians to voice concerns about cabinet appointments and policy changes? Mortifying.
Going to marches and demonstrations with crowds of thousands of loud, spirited protestors? Oh, hell no.
To others, things like this are no big deal, and doing them is a no-brainer. In fact, if you aren’t an introvert or a highly sensitive person, you may brush off some of our aversion to these sorts of things as callousness or as a sign that we truly don’t give a shit about showing up for issues that matter.
But this is far from the truth. We are a passionate, opinionated bunch. We just find many of these scenarios really, really difficult and sometimes prohibitive.
I am personally okay with phone calls, for the most part. I mean, I don’t love talking on the phone to family and friends, but I’m okay with calling a politician’s office, especially if I have a script in hand (more on that later). But marches? Crowds give me full-blown panic attacks, not to mention the fact that getting arrested or witnessing violence is something I’m not sure I could deal with bravely or without lasting effects.
The thing is, activism is important. It’s vital, really. But if we don’t practice self-care, what kind of activists can we be?
The good news is that there are many ways to be activists without having to put yourself in situations that are just too much for your personality to handle. In fact, the world needs all kind of activists to enact any real change, and there is truly a job for each and every one of us.
Here are a few activism ideas for introverts:
I know: duh. But the thing is, organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Southern Poverty Law Center rely heavily on donations, so even donating a few dollars can make a huge difference. You can set up a subscription with many of these organizations so that you will be donating on a monthly basis. And really, any amount you can donate is fine. I often donate as little as $5. Here is a more complete list of places to donate to.
Make some calls.
Okay, I know, l know. But hear me out: Calling doesn’t require you go to anywhere or look at anyone’s face. Most of the time, you’ll be sent directly to voicemail, so you don’t even need to interact with anyone. And if you do speak to someone, chances are it will be a 20-year-old intern who doesn’t care in the least how much you stumble over your words. If you still have concerns, only make a call when you’ve got an easy call script at hand and read from it word for word. Also? Remember it’s okay to cry, shake, or trip over your words. No one cares, and half the callers sound that way. The more you make calls, the easier it gets.
Use social media to share information and ideas.
If you still absolutely can’t call (and believe me, you are totally justified in feeling that way), you can still spread the information to those who are able to call. Those shared statuses with call info and scripts really are helpful, so post them, or direct message your friends with calls to action. Maybe even go so far as to set up and manage a Facebook group, email list, or group text to share info. Social media is a great way to get messages of activism out there, and it was made for introverts.
Spread small gestures of kindness.
A little goes a long, long way. So smile at the mom who is struggling with her screaming toddler as you both wait on line at the post office. Give your friend who went on a march a high five when you see her at school drop-off. Hold doors open, ask someone how they’re doing today, make eye contact. These small things can really brighten up someone’s day, and we all need that more than ever right now.
You don’t have to leave your couch to raise money for organizations that are on the front lines of activism. Are you a knitter, an artist, a T-shirt designer? Donate your goods and services to a cause. Pick a charity and sell your stuff online, making sure your buyers know where the money is going to go.
Volunteer, but do it with a friend.
Many of us introverts have trouble adjusting to new situations, and feel overwhelmed diving into something alone. So do stuff with a buddy and find a low-key place to volunteer. For example, you might find a busy soup kitchen daunting, but taking a meal to a family in need in your community might be a more comfortable option.
But here’s perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind: You’ve got to remember that as an introvert, you have limits, and it’s okay to honor them. In fact, it’s vital. Being in touch with who you are is a gift to yourself and also to others. Many of us introverts actually have a whole lot to give, but our way of giving just looks a little different. So search within your heart and figure out what works for you. Then, just go out and do it, without second-guessing or guilt.