“They’re Just People”
Written by Jayhlin Rodgers on April 7, 2023
By Jayhlin Rodgers
As I stood in the center of the Texas Capitol building, the scent of stress and anxiety escaped my body and infiltrated the surrounding spaces—”They’re just people.”
The words echoed down the hallway from a fuchsia-haired individual raising a thumbs up. That statement became a cloak for my anxiety and made me realize the start of a new reality.
When I joined the nonprofit organization, ‘Young Invincibles,’ making a presence at the Capitol to advocate for change was no longer a concept that festered in my head but now an actuality ready to be faced.
At this moment, I was challenged to step outside of my comfort zones, never break, and be a supportive voice for what the organization deemed advocacy day.
Self-advocacy is an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert their interests, desires, needs, and rights. This is a concept that strongly connects to many, including myself.
When I first heard of Young Invincibles, I immediately thought of the film The Incredibles. The 2004 superhero movie took the youth by storm, showing a family full of humans with powers.
The family’s strength showed through their supernatural powers, passion, and will to fight against what was deemed wrong. This group of supernatural beings advocated for those who could not advocate for themselves.
Young Invincibles portray that same passion but with fewer supernatural powers and more people. This national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization has committed to elevating the voices of young adults in the political process.
With a background in advising presidents and shifting perspectives, the organization has used its knowledge to empower young adults with the necessary tools to be robust and influential change agents.
Change comes and goes on an annual basis. So instead of sitting on the sidelines, I happily accepted the opportunity to hop on a bus full of others headed to Austin and explore the possibilities that roamed in the Capitol.
Before we voyaged, we were prepped with information on what bills we’d be advocating for, who we would speak to, and what to expect. Though ample information was shared, nothing could prepare me for the mixed emotions I experienced.
Speaking to legislation and diving into the importance of bills like House Bill 12, providing medical assistance for eligible pregnant women for no less than 12 months following childbirth, excited me as much as it scared me.
I was paired with three others to address a representative and be the speaker. As we stood in the center of a hallway that seemed to have no end, my heart pumped louder than the echoes of the elementary school kids, amazed by the broad walkways and high ceilings around them.
As my teammates attempted to comfort me in my nervous solitude, the words “they’re just people” remained stained on my brain.
People of power are intimidating. Why that is may be as simple as the power they possess.
At that moment, I realized the importance of seeing every person as an individual rather than stressing over the titles that describe them.
The purpose of advocacy day was to use the power of voice to talk to people about why others deserve certain advantages.
That day, a group of young individuals was empowered to use their voices and overcome anxieties that stem from the possibility of what-ifs.
In any challenging instance, the gravity of “they’re just people” might drive individuals to advocate in the same ways Young Invincibles inspired the youth to do for themselves.