Greta Christina has given her talk on avoiding activist burnout many times in many places, but it’s often the short version. I heard the longer version at Skepticon for the first time.
I like this version better. Or maybe I just needed it more.
I came home from Skepticon exhausted. I don’t know how much of that was because my husband’s employer has been incredibly slow to get us signed up for health insurance through them after I left my job. I let my vitamin D prescription lapse because it wasn’t covered. I won’t be doing that again before spring, when I can get the stuff just by sitting outside.
That’s probably not all of it, though. I have been burning out, dreading working on even things I’m passionate about, getting very little satisfaction out of accomplishments. I’ve put too much into projects, groups, people that require me to shout the house down (in precise, polite language, of course) when I need something in return. That doesn’t work for me. Once I’m less exhausted, and less grumpy about the cause of the exhaustion, I’ll be making sure I give those a fair look before cutting them off. In the meantime, I simply haven’t done much that requires me to be public and energetic and giving. There just hasn’t been anything there.
That’s not to say I’ve done nothing with the last three weeks. I’ve helped polish off one harassment policy project and properly started another that’s been on hold. I’ve done some of the bare minimum toward fall house cleaning and hosted a major holiday. I’ve beta-read a book and given feedback. I’ve prepped for two radio interviews this month. I’ve helped push two big Minnesota Atheist projects forward. I’ve researched proposals and agents for nonfiction books, and sadly discovered that my former agent is no longer representing writers. And I’ve tried not to become a complete hermit while doing it all.
This may be why I’m still pretty tired.
I am relaxing too, sleeping plenty and playing games, but it’s not feeling altogether restful. I’m not coming away refreshed. As I said in another context recently, with all these things having the impact they do on my day-to-day life, I’m not sure what a vacation that felt like a vacation would look like these days. But I’ll work on that. Long conversations with a couple good friends I don’t talk to enough have helped. So maybe more of that.
Whatever the right mix is*, I’ll figure it out eventually. Maybe something will pop out watching the talk a couple more times.
*I do know that giving up alcohol, as the harassers so “helpfully” suggested as I live-tweeted the parts of Greta’s talk that mentioned alcohol–and caffeine–use, isn’t in there. As the child of an alcoholic, I’ve never been a big drinker. I’ve monitored my use closely all my adult life. Hell, I have trouble not monitoring everyone else’s. Their “concern” is just one more attempt to make libel function in the place of arguments.