I’m so sorry this took so long to answer, but I wanted to make sure I gave you a good response to a good question.
I’m fairly new to activism, frankly. I’ve always had this internal, amorphous, ambiguous desire to want to get involved in improving our world, but never quite knew how. And then… well, as funny as it sounds, then I created a tumblr. I met people, lots of them, who not only had similar beliefs to my own, but who were speaking out about them, and who were actively calling for a better world. Wonderful, outspoken people who made me realize that I do have a voice and that I need to use it.
So here’s my advice. Figure out what you’re passionate about. Educate yourself about current events, talk to your friends and family, ask questions, do research. When you encounter issues or causes that you feel strongly about, find out more. The first step in making positive change is to seek understanding of an issue and it’s complexities.
Next, you get angry about it. Get pissed about a minority group being denied rights or a voice. Become outraged about ridiculously unfair distribution of wealth in the U.S. Get mad about the widespread absence of female artists in major museums. Of course, this might not work for everybody, but there is no better motivator for me personally than outrage. Find that cause that gives you an emotional response, one that you could talk about for hours, one that you can’t help but talking to friends and family about. Because that is the cause that your activism is going to best help, because chances are that passion that you have for it is going to allow you to throw yourself at it.
Here comes the “active” part of activism. Don’t just think about it, DO SOMETHING. Tell your friends about it, talk to people, research groups or communities in your area that target that issue specifically and get involved. For me, that was as easy as opening tumblr every day, finding the right blogs to follow, and asking questions. Eventually, I started posting my own thoughts and ideas about issues. And to be clear: activism has many shapes and sizes. You don’t have to go to a protest or a rally to call yourself an activist. Write about it on your blog, sign/start petitions, use social media like facebook and twitter to spread the word. Helping people stay informed (from your followers to your friends to strangers, whichever you feel comfortable with) will help.
To stay focused and avoid getting too overwhelmed, I find it’s helpful to look at your goals very specifically. Instead of “stop sexism” or “end poverty,” set attainable goals, like “petition my school to create a sex ed program that isn’t heteronormative” or “start a facebook group for activists in my area.” Want to plan an event or protest? Dream big but start small, and try to work with people who have experience. Accomplishing goals like this remind you that you are making a difference, and motivate you to keep fighting.
And lastly: Don’t get discouraged. At least, don’t let the hard days make you quit. Because there will be hard days. There will be days when it feels hopeless, when it seems that the whole world is working against you, or that your voice is unheard. But as long as you keep trying, you cannot be silenced.