I’m not a protesting newbie. I’ve attended my fair share starting in high school and I would also consider myself an introvert. Protests leave me feeling frazzled and drained and in need of hiding afterwards, but I still think it’s incredibly important to show up.
So if you’re planning on getting out there for the first time, here are some tips to make your experience easier:
- Dress appropriately. This is really obvious, but you want to make sure to wear shoes you can walk in for long periods of time and you want to prepare for the weather. Nothing will help your experience go downhill like feeling overwhelmed and being soaking wet.
- Stick to the edges. If you don’t like crowds this is really important. Being on the edges allows you to step away if you need to and helps avoid any feels of being swallowed up in a crowd.
- Go with people you know. I think this is a good idea for anyone attending their first protest or march because it gives you a built in support group. You can lessen anxiety by deciding where to meetup if you get separated ahead of time. Remember that your cell phone might not work in that kind of crowd.
- Prepare ahead of time. Make sure you know where you’re starting, ending, and if at all possible know the route. Having confidence in what’s happening can ease anxiety or give you places to stop and rest along the way.
- You don’t have to stay the whole time. I think showing up at all for introverts is a big extension of energy and I’m grateful whenever they make the effort to come out at all. Don’t feel bad about leaving early. In fact, if it helps keep you feeling good enough to attend again, please do leave early.
- Spoil yourself afterwards. Go home, grab a drink, read a book, take a bubble bath or whatever you do to recharge.My post-protest/march routine is to go to a quiet restaurant and have a drink to help me unwind and then I go home to a quiet space. Self care is important.
- You don’t have to go to every single protest. This is something that I’m reminding myself of a lot recently. It’s going to be an intense spring and summer for protesting and marching and we can’t let ourselves burn out. Take a break. Take a lot of breaks. Do whatever will make you a better advocate and will make you feel your best.
I hope these tips help. This idea came to mind when I was out at the Science March this weekend and saw that I was surrounded by people who would normally call themselves introverts. I hope this encourages some of you to get out there again, or even for your first time.
Protesting is an important aspect of civic engagement and has featured in at least one of my novels recently, but it’s not the only form of civic engagement. Do whatever you do best, but I still hope to see you out on the streets.
P.s. You can get the prequel to the Alternative Series for free here.