When people ask me what I do, most of the time I say “writer” to make things simpler. When the conversation progresses and I reveal that being an environmental advocate is my “real job,” the tone shifts. They’re usually awed and more curious. “Did you take up marine biology?” “It must be frustrating to deal with the government…” ”So you never get scared of sharks?!” And for the win, “So… Do you still have time for boys?” #YUNOH
I understand the appeal of dating an advocate. We’re persistent. We’re passionate. We’re intellectually stimulating. But there’s much more to us than the cause(s) we’re championing.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
International conferences are breeding grounds for flirtationships*.
After sessions on poverty alleviation and youth unemployment, the animal rights activists turn into party animals. So do tech pioneers, educators, ministers, and social entrepreneurs. We sometimes miss our early morning appointment because we go home from, uh, “networking events” an hour before it. We gossip about last night’s function using code names pulled from countries/cities or causes, e.g., “OMG, did you see Jordan grinding with Kenya last night?” or, “YES, the HIV/AIDS guy was making out with that woman who builds libraries in Yemen!”
We don’t make a lot of money, but we make a lot of good friends.
The world is small, but when you have an advocacy, it gets MUCH smaller. These friends have houses around the globe that we can stay in so we don’t have to pay for accommodations when we travel. These friends invite us to events with a lot of free food, alcohol, and giveaways. Hopefully these make up for all the dinners and movies that you pay for.
Our schedules are strange. Relatively flexible but unpredictable. So are our moods.
Most of us don’t have your regular 9-5 office job. We can be in a senate hearing during one afternoon, a photo shoot the next, a trip to some far-flung island on another. We work on holidays and weekends, because developmental issues don’t have holidays and weekends. You’re not allowed to complain about this because you met us this way. This doesn’t mean we won’t miss you or wish we had more time together. We do. We value every moment with you, even those times when we’re working on a position paper for the Reproductive Health Bill and you’re lying down nearby, reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Or 9GAG.
And because you witness our ups and downs, you will also be the shock absorber, stress ball, and shoulder to cry on. Throw in the monthly PMS and you’re smack in the middle of a crossfire. You must know when to be a cheerleader, when to tell us to stop, and when to keep calm and keri lang.
We care about what you think.
You may not be in the same field. You may not even have your own advocacy. That’s okay. Your opinion still matters, and it matters a lot. It’s important to know what people outside our circles think so we don’t keep preaching to the choir. We need to know what the pulse of the general public is too. Be honest. Comment. Disagree. Debate. Question.
Advocates are powered by passion.
There is a fine, fine line between insanity and brilliance and we will cross that often. Try not to forget that our passion is what attracted you to us in the first place.
We may not talk about you as much as we talk about our advocacies, especially not during international conferences, “networking events,” and media features. You see, the whole world knows what we do, so you’re that one part that we want to keep away from the (sometimes intrusive) spotlight. But rest assured that you really are the better half, the wind beneath our wings, the renewable source of inspiration that allows us to do what we do.
Besides, the love for what we do and the passion for issues we fight for apply to all aspects of our lives. We may be crazy about our cause, but we are also crazy about YOU. True story.
*More than a friendship, less than a relationship.
Inspired and patterned after Things You Should Know Before You Date A Writer