A coaching client suggested I discuss how introverts get involved in activism. As someone introverted and also interested in making a difference, this seemed like a worthy subject for me to investigate.
Traditionally, crowds and loud places are not an introvert’s dream setup. Protesting peacefully has appeal, but there are still those pesky crowds and with Covid -19 still on the loose, a more sedate setting seems appropriate.
Silence and being alone do not work in this case
I wanted to join in on the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd. His death occurred in my city of Minneapolis. I felt compelled to do something. My only hold up was the fact that I did not want to go alone. I looked on my church’s website to see if there were any organized groups getting together and attending the protests. I did not see any. I ran the idea past my husband. He did not bite. My kids were up for discussions but did not express interest in actual engagement.
Then the riots started and even I was hesitant to go downtown and join the scene. I wanted to protest peacefully, but not get mixed up in the crossfire of rubber bullets, spray paint and fire accelerants.
Ways to get involved
What is an introvert to do when they want to actively advocate? Here is a non-exclusive list of some of the quieter, but still powerful ways we can get behind a cause:
- Write: Many introverts like to write. It is a lower pressured way to communicate. We get the time to formulate our thoughts exactly as we want them. Write the appropriate government officials affiliated with your cause. Get bills passed, money channeled, officials fired, etc. Find out the exact person you need to address the issue and write to them. Explain who you are and why this issue means something to you. Make it personal. Make it understood your vote and contributions depend on this. Also, write articles, books and blog posts detailing your cause’s message. It’s an impactful but less noisy way to spread the word.
- Vote: If your issue is on the ballot, get there and vote. Do not leave it up to others. Others may be against your cause or not willing or able to vote. Even better, get others to vote too. Help them understand the issues if necessary, give them a ride, but get them to take part by actually voting. I now vote in smaller elections too. I used to only vote for presidential elections. The more I learn, the more I want my input to count.
- Volunteer: Find a program that aligns with your beliefs. You meet interesting people and get a mighty dopamine/serotonin rush too. Volunteers keep many causes afloat. If it is important to you, devote time to it. One weekend afternoon a month, makes a difference. I was a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for three years. It was an unforgettable experience. I quit because it interfered too much with my family time. Recently, while talking about it with my 16 year old daughter, she said, “You should do that again Mom.” That permission felt very validating. She now sees the value in that program and what an impact it had on me.
- Donate money: Every cause needs money. Give what you can. I read somewhere once it makes the most difference, if we give an amount that hurts a little. In other words, we feel a little uneasy about giving that much, but we do it anyway.
- Have difficult conversations: The anti-racism movement is the perfect cause to speak out about and feel uncomfortable. Since learning a white person has more influence over other white people than a person of color has, I’ve been speaking up (albeit not too aggressively) on social media and among friends. Dolly Chugh’s book on implicit bias, The Person You Mean to Be, says to start by saying you disagree and then ask if the other person is willing to hear your perspective. If they are not, move on. If they are open to a discussion, simply state your perspective and kindly listen to theirs. In the end, you can always agree to disagree.
- Join discussions/book clubs: I joined a book study group on Dolly Chugh’s book (The Person You Mean to Be) through work (school district). Although due to Covid we could not meet in person, the Zoom discussions gave us a safe space to speak, listen and learn. Just today, I hesitantly signed up for another book study group over the summer. I even said I would be willing to facilitate the group. I do not want all introverts to believe they have to facilitate or lead the groups. That may be too uncomfortable, but I have also found that if it is an issue you strongly believe in, you have more energy to lead.
- Support your cause through patronizing their businesses, donating food, buying their t-shirts, etc.: Find out who is behind your favorite cause and support them. Also, some charities have their own fundraising. Take part in the events and/or purchase the products. Fundraising itself might be a bit too much stimulation for some introverts, but attending their events (usually once or twice a year) and buying their products is not too taxing on our nervous systems.
What other ways can people with introverted traits get involved? Do you find an important cause can make you act more extroverted?