How to Stay Motivated

Last night, I was sitting in my bed struggling to get off Facebook and actually finish my paper that was due the next day. I was tired. I wanted to go to sleep. I didn’t have any more energy to keep writing. As a last stitch effort to stay motivated, I looked up female empowerment playlists on YouTube and rocked out to Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé until I finished my paper.

Well, the same practice is true for activism. Sometimes when you’re working hard for your cause, being challenged, and potentially dealing with triggering, upsetting reminders that the world needs a lot of improvement—it can be really easy to feel in over your head. Sometimes you need to find a way to feel motivated again.

Here are some tips for avoiding burn out:

Find Sources of Inspiration

Picture with Laci Green

Laci Green at Cornell University

When this picture was taken during Laci Green‘s visit to Cornell University this past September, I was feeling completely burnt out. Sometimes when you do sexual assault prevention work, people disclose things to you that you don’t always want to hear. That week in particular, I was exhausted and looking up bus ticket prices to head home for a couple days. Things didn’t work out and I ended up meeting Laci Green instead.

For those of you who don’t know, Laci Green is this amazingly talented YouTuber and sex education activist. She’s amassed over a million subscribers and she’s found success as an activist on a public platform. The fact that I was able to tell Laci that she changed my life and inspired me to become an activist myself reminded me that I needed to keep pushing forward.

Get Connected with Other Activists

If you’re a student activist, try finding activist-based organizations to get involved with on campus. Seek out support from other members who care about the same issues that you do. Create a network of other activists and allies that you can lean on when you need it.

Last summer I attended a conference for youth organizers in New York City. I met many students from schools all across the country who were just as passionate as I was. It was a great reminder that there are others out there who care about the same issues that I do. Look for chances to meet other activists and reach out when you need it!

Find Outside Sources of Support

Sometimes constantly hearing about prominent social issues and inequalities can be really draining and emotionally strenuous. Remember that your mental health matters. Many people jump at the mention of therapy—but find some sort of outside support if you feel like you’re too overwhelmed. Whether that’s talking to a mental health professional, a parent, a best friend, etc. Take the time to figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Recognize Your Limits

It’s not possible for one person to fix all the problems in the world. Keep your activist efforts realistic. Work hard and set strategic, measurable goals. Recognize the value of even the little things you do and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned.

Step Back

I find that ever since I started interning at The Advocacy Center and have been surrounded by constant conversation on various social issues, I’m less willing to discuss these issues with friends when I’m off the clock. When I pick my next show on Netflix, I’m going to pick something like Friends or Parks and Recreation over something like SVU. That’s because as much as I love it, I need to keep the activist components of my life separate from my personal life sometimes.

Be sure you give yourself a break when you need it. Step back when you start to feel like you’re running out of energy.

Remind Yourself What You’re Fighting For

Hanging above my bed is a corkboard full of pictures and other little reminders of the things I care about. There’s a letter from a close friend praising me for being so open-minded, poster from The Advocacy Center, the program flier from when I met Laci Green, and a sticker that says Got Consent? Every day I wake up and I’m reminded of why I’m working so hard. Surround yourself with little reminders of why your work matters to you.

Stay in tune with what you need and find out what personally works best for you. Stay strong and keep pushing forward.

Lobbying 101: How to Talk to Legislators and Other Key People about Your Cause

One of the overarching themes of my introductory US Politics course freshman year was that my generation is not interested or involved in politics. Although there may be some truth to this, I think the fact that we can access information immediately online or download news articles straight to our iPhones is incredibly valuable. Let’s use that power to effect action.

As a follow-up to my reflection on my experience speaking with state legislators at the Day of Action, I wanted to offer some tips on talking and interacting with legislators or any other influential stakeholders about important social causes.

1. Know Your Legislators

This may seem obvious, but you really should know who is making some of the decisions for your district. If you don’t know who your legislators are, then you won’t know their personal stance on the issues you want to discuss which will determine your strategy for making a change.

For example, when we were lobbying at the state capital for the Day of Action, it was important for us to know that Senator O’Mara, our districts senator, was not in support of women’s access to abortion care which is a main component to the Women’s Equality Agenda. Knowing this, we were able to build our case around it and get straight to the point about what we want.

If you don’t know who your legislators are, look them up!

2. Research, Research, Research

Whenever you are presenting your case to someone or trying to convince someone that your movement is important, you should have facts, statistics, and personal narratives to back up what you have to say.

3. Don’t Overlook the Value of Personal Narratives

As valuable as doing your research is, do not underestimate how valuable your own personal story is. When speaking to legislators or other important stakeholders in your cause, it will be hard for them to refute a real, live person standing in front of them who is directly affected by these issues.

During the Day of Action, many women shared their abortion stories. Older women stood up and talked about pre-Roe v. Wade times when women they knew died from unsafe abortions. Mothers talked about their children and their desire to have their daughters live in a world where they have the right to choose. Your voice is powerful, use it!

4. Remember Why You’re There

If you need inspiration for coming up with talking points or personal narratives, try reflecting back on what motivated you to participate in activism in the first place. What are you fighting for? What change to you want to see in the world? Think about it and use that energy to your advantage.

5. Be Polite

There are always going to people who don’t understand why you care about your cause. If you’re advocating for things like reproductive justice, LGBTQIA equality, disability rights, etc. then there are going to be people who refute what you have to say. Don’t let that stop you. Keep your cool even if someone disagrees with you.

6. Stand Strong, Fill the Room, and Make a Statement

One of the most moving parts of the Day of Action was the fact that when we met with Senator O’Mara’s assistant, we filled up the entire room. We were organized. We all knew exactly what we wanted to say and why we were there. We were all decked out in bright pink scarfs, ties and bows and together we demanded change.

7. Work Together

When doing work in any activist movement, find support from other activists. If you’re at a rally, start up a conversation with the person next to you. Maybe keep an eye out for conferences or local events related to the causes you care about. One person cannot change the world, it takes collective action to really get things done.

8. Have Fun!

When I came to college and started getting involved with as many activist projects as possible, I had no idea that it could be so much fun. Rallying with a group of people who are just as passionate as I am is really what keeps me going. It makes me feel hopeful and inspired.

A Fight for Freedom: A Reflection on the Day of Action

One week ago at exactly this time, I would have just braced a massive snow storm driving back to Ithaca College after attending Planned Parenthood’s annual Day of Action in Albany, NY to lobby for women’s reproductive healthcare and the Women’s Equality Agenda. I spent the day listening to state legislators make speeches on choice and equality and the future of women’s healthcare. I rode on a bus with over seventy other activists. There were ten year olds, college students, and retired men and women. We were all fighting for the same thing: to create a world where everyone has access to quality reproductive healthcare, where everyone has the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, and legislators support survivors and fund services for their recovery. Unfortunately, we do not live in this world right now. But speaking up and talking to political figures about real, tangible polices surrounding these issues made me feel like we’re getting a little bit closer.

Prior to starting college, I was always shy and reserved. My teachers always told me to speak louder. It took until my freshman year of college before I really started to speak up. On the bus ride up, the organizers asked people to come up to the front of the bus and talk about why they are participating in the Day of Action. I listened to people share the stories that brought them to the reproductive justice movement. Two years ago, I would have stayed in my seat. But I stood up and I walked to the front of the bus and grabbed hold of that microphone.

I stood up and said: “I’m here because barriers to healthcare are barriers to equality. Everyone has the right to control their own bodies and fight back against injustices. It doesn’t matter that I’m young and only a college student, I have a voice and I’m allowed to use it.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

I stood in a room full of activists and spoke with Senator O’Mara’s assistant about the importance of allowing women to have autonomy over their reproductive and sexual health.

Here in America, we claim to be the land of the free. Freedom is being able to make personal decisions, freedom is being able to choose to have children. But here is the scary truth: we have fewer rights and less access to these healthcare needs than we did 5-10 years ago.

Scary, right?

It’s 2015 and we’re facing an attack on sex education, access to contraception, and the right to have an abortion. And these decisions affect real people, real lives.

We can’t go backwards. We can’t stay silent.

During the speeches, someone said, “If one generation plants a tree, the next generation will get the shade.”

So let’s keep fighting. 1509785_10206211901605141_6128529525598160500_n (1)

Here’s Why Activism Isn’t Cute

This past Monday I got on a bus at 6am and traveled three hours to Albany, NY and spoke with state legislators and lobbied for women’s access to quality reproductive healthcare—something we should already have in 2015. In order to go from Ithaca to Albany in a day, I missed all of my classes. So for the past week, I’ve been that person who walks up to the professor and says: “I’m going to be missing class the second week of the semester.” Most people were cool about it. Most of my professors gave me responses like “enjoy your political event” and some people even asked follow up questions about my involvement with Planned Parenthood.

Everything was fine, but a couple days ago I approached another student in my class and asked her for her number so she could text me the notes I missed. We had exchanged names once. She knew nothing about me.

“Why are you missing class?” she asked me.

“I’m going to talk to state legislators about women’s access to healthcare,” I told her. She typed her number in my phone and then said, “Oh, that’s cute.”

I’m sorry, working towards equality and access to quality healthcare is cute? What?

I’m no stranger to people misunderstanding the activist work that I do. It happens all the time. When I tell people that I do work with Planned Parenthood I’m used to people saying things like “Oh, cool” or “That’s interesting” before quickly changing the subject, but to call something cute is just plain degrading. Ensuring that people can afford quality healthcare, or have access to birth control, or have the freedom to control their own bodies is anything but cute, it’s a reality that many people fight for every single day.

When I participated in the Day of Action last year and was speaking with state legislators and learning about the benefits of the Women’s Equality Agenda, my first thought wasn’t this is so adorable that we’re all here. No, I was empowered and motivated to keep talking and giving voice to these issues. Activism takes a lot of personal time, effort and emotion. I love every minute of it, but sometimes it can be hard to drown out all the negative voices that make it seem like this work is pointless, stupid, or simply a ‘cute’ little side hobby.

Fighting for things like gender equity, reproductive rights, or freedom from gender-based violence can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, but my advice for anyone advocating for a cause is to stick with it anyways. When someone downplays or disregards what you believe in, it’s only an attempt to silence you and your cause. I say, keep speaking up. Keep fighting back because you are making a difference in someone’s life.

1am Ramblings on the Importance of Doing Things

*This post was written between 1:15 and 1:40 am so please disregard any sentences that seem to be awkward.

I have to say, I feel really great right now. There’s nothing better than the feeling like I’m actually accomplishing and doing things. I’m not just talking about all the things that I maybe want to do at some point in the future…I’m actually doing them. And that feels great.

It’s one-something in the morning and I can’t sleep because I’m buzzing on how much I’ve gotten done lately. I submitted my first application for a summer internship, I finished a three-credit college course in two weeks, I spent quality time with a childhood friend, and I drank hot chocolate while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Oh, and I actually started this freaking blog, a project I’ve been talking about, thinking about, and coming up with ideas on what to write about for over a year. Why should anything stop me from doing what I want to do, you know?

It took a year of me studying writing at the college-level for me to realize that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and always will; but I found that once I started doing it for a grade and in preparation for the professional world, I kind of lost all my passion and excitement for it. I stopped thinking of new story ideas in the middle of the night. I put all my writing-energy into my coursework so I stopped having any motivation to do it for myself.

For the first time in a long time, this feels right. I feel happy and excited about this project. I feel the its-super-late-but-I’m-going-to-keep-writing-anyways kind of feeling again. And it’s great. It’s so great that I want to encapsulate these feelings on the page so I can look back at how wonderful it is to get things done.

All the best,


New Year’s Resolutions?

I meant to post this a few days ago but for the past two weeks I’ve been taking Principles of Microeconomics at a community college by my house so I could finish my Gen. Ed requirements and get out of a semester-long math class. However, fitting in the fifteen weeks of work into two was actually kind of a waste of time. I wrote most of this post during a discussion on currency exchange and at one point my professor left the room to grade papers for so long that me and three other people in my class left the building, drove down the street, bought pizza, drove back, and ate the pizza without my professor even noticing. He came back in the room about thirty minutes later and said “where did that pizza box come from?” I’m glad that the money I spent on the course and the $94 textbook that sat in the backseat of my car the whole time went to good use.

Anyways, the course is over now so let’s talk about New Year’s Resolutions.

Do you notice how at the start of every New Year (after the hangover subsides) we all restart the clock and collectively deicide that we totally want to run more miles, lose more weight, and become better people? I’m all for self-improvement, but do you notice that most people only focus on improving their appearance?

If I were to sift through the many articles recommending goals to set for the New Year that keep popping up on my social media pages, the majority the articles that are not listing ways to lose those extra pounds or offering tips on going to the gym more often are about romantic relationships. I saw articles with titles like “relationships resolutions” and “dating resolutions all single girls should make.” So basically, you have two options: you should focus on making yourself look more attractive, or you should change yourself so then someone else can find you attractive.

Why is it that self-improvement and becoming better versions of ourselves is synonymous with losing weight and being skinnier and more physically attractive?

We live in a culture that promotes being thin and fears being fat. That’s why we care so much about dropping pounds and fitting beauty standards. I’ve felt that pressure. I’ve made resolutions to lose extra weight and it didn’t do much for me. I found that making those resolutions only made me feel bad about eating high-calorie food and stare in mirrors more often. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat more veggies or go running, but people should set these goals for the rights reasons. Let me tell you, there’s so much more to a person than looks and weight (you know, brains, talent, personal achievement, etc.) and we should work to focus on that more.

This year, my goal is to focus on self-care and self-love.

I don’t want to create a list of my flaws that I want to improve, I want to work on remembering what I actually like about myself and what makes me happy. I think we should all do more things that make us happy in 2015. Whether that’s taking more time for yourself, or giving yourself a day to do nothing in pajamas, or maybe challenge yourself to start a new project or a hobby. Or my personal favorite, stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself you’re awesome every now and again.

Let’s not put ourselves down. Let’s not only focus on what we feel like we need to fix about ourselves. Let’s not fret about our weight so much. Instead, let’s focus on what we love about ourselves.

Here’s to a year full of self-care.

All the best,


Let’s Talk

Hey there. Happy New Year. Let’s do this. Let’s start a blog.

I’ve always liked the idea that when the clock strikes midnight, we all get some sort of second chance, a clean slate, an opportunity to kick bad habits and become better versions of ourselves. In the past, I would make lofty, generic goals for myself that I would completely forget about or give up on by the first of February. I’m not doing that this year. I only have one thing I want to do this year: I want to start blogging.

That’s why tonight I had big plans of sitting down at a Starbucks with some mint decaf tea to finally write my first blog post (I know writing in a café is kind of lame and cliché, but I have family visiting and it’s impossible to focus at home). But instead, every seat in the Starbucks was completely full because life in upstate New York in the winter is clearly very exciting. So I sat in the Subway next door and reluctantly purchased a sandwich for tomorrow just to have a reason to be there. I had no idea how to get started. I write for myself and for professors all the time, but the idea of putting myself online is a little daunting.

The Subway was pretty much empty and I sat in the far corner of the room so I could have some privacy. Moments later, moments after I wrote the first sentence of this post, two girls who looked about fourteen sat at the table right next to me. I watched my cursor blink and they stared at me while they ate Cool Ranch Doritos. Just as I was starting to wonder whether or not this whole starting a blog thing wasn’t meant to be and if I should just head home, one of the girls stood up and started running her hands over her stomach. She kept saying to her friend “look how much it puffs out.”

I was about to give up, but then I was reminded of why I write in the first place. I was reminded of what gave me the idea to start this blog. You see, I write to give voice to social issues that most people would otherwise never talk about. I write to give voice to the problems that we think are personal and specific to just us, when in reality, these struggles are pretty common. Sure, seeing those girls tonight was pretty random and almost insignificant, but I see instances like that all of the time, little moments where I’m reminded of the social pressures that women and young girls navigate through every single day. These experiences that are also compounded for anyone who identifies outside the gender binary, anyone who is not white, anyone who is not straight, and anyone who is not able-bodied. I’m very aware that it’s going to take a lot more than some blog posts to overcome the systematic power structures in place in our society, but I really want to create a space to have a conversation about these issues. Let’s start talking.

If I learned anything in 2014, it’s that my voice matters and the things I have to say and the stories I have to tell are worth sharing. 2014 was full of many personal achievements and growth, but when it came to the challenges, many people tried to get me to shut up, to keep my thoughts to myself, to not let my voice take up too much space. Words and personal narratives carry quite a bit of power, and when we share our stories with the world, it reminds others that they are not alone in their experiences.

So here is my first message to anyone who comes across this webpage: use your voice because you never know who might be listening and you never know the impact you might have.

This is a brand new project for me and I’m sure I have a lot to learn, but I’m going to work through it and I’m going to keep writing!

Here’s to many more posts in 2015.

All the best,