Posted in Overcoming Adversity, The Billy Blogs

Am I Truly An Advocate? Or Do I Just Play One On The Internet?

Busy season has drawn to a close here in Florida, as the work hours have calmed down a bit and my mind can start to relax. But with the calm becomes a storm of thoughts, most specifically with my plans on attending various self-advocacy conferences in the Orlando area

Last year around this time, I was introduced to Florida SAND with the bright idea to start a grassroots advocacy group in the Orlando area. I was partnered up with an amazing mentor and a lot of great advocates who have become fast friends. My dreams of running my own group like the ones Billy used to be president for would not only help others in one of the nation’s crappiest states to be disabled in, but would also give me a reason to find motivation to continue my mission of equality and inclusiveness for those with developmental disabilities.

The breakup with Billy killed a lot of that motivation I had, hence why I rarely blog anymore. Life has had it’s fair share of nonsense, but I have grown because of it, just in different aspects of my life. I learned the true meaning of love in the form of RJ who sacrificed so much of himself for me. I have made tremendous progress in my career growth, facing my fears head on and taking every situation handed to me as a learning opportunity. Even my self care has greatly improved, both mentally and even financially.

But with that growth and new responsibility comes that sense of loss. This year, I decided not to do my annual speech at the Family Cafe in June, partially due to my main focus on the growth of my advocacy group, but mostly because I feel as if I don’t have anything new to contribute like I used to. I’m not some miracle fluff peace on employment or following my dreams, yadda yadda yadda. Sometimes I feel my story is a broken record. Nothing magical or inspiring has cone out of my end since those days of writing for The Mighty took off and the relationship with Billy that came with it. I feel as if the novelty of myself has warn out and my wishes of normalcy have been granted to a degree. Just me living a normal life with a job I love with the man I learned to love again. What more can be said? What more can be done?

I started my advocacy group in April this past year in hopes of reaching out to many people and having our voices heard. But my silly self did not realize Orlando’s massive size, not to mention my lack of knowing anyone in Orlando with disabilities. I’m not a Special Olympian or a Best Buddy (never again, because of Billy) nor do I belong to a group home or day program. It’s not like I can phone up Jack from bowling team and be like “let’s start a group.” And Jack would be like “Cool, I’ll let Smitty and Susie from Day Progran know. Wanna meet up at McDonald’s?” And BAM! Instant group. I don’t have any connections like that, and due to my disabilities being mild in comparison to others who I want to reach out to, I feel a bit like I don’t belong, kind of like that Spork from the Toy Story 4 trailer. That and I’m way in over my head, Orlando is huge, and the groups I want to reach out to are hard to come by or nonexistent. Case in point, as a mildly disabled person trying to connect with others “I DON’T BELONG HERE!”

Spork from Toy Story 4 trailer. Photo Credit Disney

I want to do so much for so many people, but I guess you can say I have a bad case of Imposter Syndrome, both from a normalcy standpoint in life and an advocacy standpoint. I feel like a missing puzzle piece in many aspects of my life, and I just can’t seem to make the pieces fit. But from an advocacy level, this really irks me the most.

My blogs have reached thousands and my speeches have reached many across the country from Rhode island to Florida, but yet I start questioning myself, am I doing all this for the right reasons? Can I make a small group of less than 6 people into these larger groups at the conference that take up multiple tables at the conference dinners with their matching shirts? Will I ever figure out the balance between my new normal and embrace the fuck out of it while staying true to my cause? Or did I just do all this for show and retweets? Is there more beyond fluffy inspiration porn memoir pieces of my life and Billy’s, or have my days as an advocate finally come to an end.

Well, looks like we have to figure this out together. Shall we? Florida SAND, please help me find my place again in the advocacy world. Help this Spork become a real toy.


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