Every time we suffer a defeat, I go through the 21 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, floor crying, blaming others, blaming myself, feeling guilty for not being a magical beam of light with limitless energy, not eating, eating too much, insomnia, crumbling into a heap, alcohol, inappropriate laughter, back pain, Facebook, yelling, naps, existential dread, taking a deep breath, and acceptance.

The reason advocates exist is because there is something wrong in the world, and fixing the world is taking longer than I thought it would. It’s not a straightforward path, or even one path, and advocates don’t even all agree on the path, although we may seek the same destination. Being an advocate means being immersed in the wrongness and fighting as hard as you can to make it right, and losing. Then those 21 stages of grief happen, and then you fight some more. That’s resilience.

And that’s the sort of messed up part about being an advocate: your work relies on your resilience, and your resilience is overtaxed by the reason for your advocacy. As a queer, genderqueer, Asian-American of woman-ish experience working in TQBLG advocacy, I get knocked down almost constantly, and it is draining. It can become more than just lots of experiences with sexism, binarism, heteronormativity, transphobia, racism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, misogyny, and other forms of violence. It can become the narrative of my life. Having lived as me in this world for 32 years now, my resilience is nothing short of miraculous.

However long it takes me to get up each time, what matters is that I get up. However frustrating it is to continue the work when it sometimes seems like it’s going nowhere, what matters is that I charge forward. However terrifying it is to continue to live my truth, what matters is that I do. I won’t stop. I won’t give up. I don’t know how much progress we can make, or if we are making net progress at all, but I do know that if we don’t fight, what is wrong in this world will remain, and grow, and win. We can’t let that happen.