“However, given the struggle in working out how achieve these visions, they are not necessarily realistic or achievable expectations, and this disparity between long-term goals and short- term actions can be a source of disappointment for activists who have taken the approach of concentrating on awareness raising to grow the movement first, with practical action to follow.” Seyfang and Haxeltine,2012
Right, here’s me about to burn more bridges. Screw the politically-correct thing about having boundless sympathy for fellow “activists” who self-describe themselves as ‘burnout’ when they have the psychic equivalent of a papercut. Screw the notion that “burnout is what the victim says burnout is” (1) as you hold hands with some muppet and sing kumbaya.
Burnt out is when you’ve been betrayed at every turn, kicked in the teeth, when you have – over a prolonged period of time – forced the pace and used up reserves of mental and physical energy. Burnt out is when you’ve toasted yourself to try to achieve a worth-the-risk goal, doing lots of mundane and repetitive shit because that’s what you have to do to get anything proper done.
Burnt out is NOT when you expected the Eco-Revolution would happen after the next street party, or if not then, definitely at the one after that and when it hasn’t you get in a bit of a funk.
Do not expect me to feel massive sympathy if you have been unable
a) to distinguish between your desires and probable reality
b) to pace yourself and conserve your energy
Do not expect me to collude with your adoption of a victim aura to cover the fact that you don’t know how to say “no, I won’t be able to take part in that, even though I’d get a buzz from it and it would do no end of good to my activist cred.”
Because when you promise and then don’t deliver – regardless of whether you give other people you are working with advance notice or not [and if you don't, then you are a lunch-out and screw you] – you at the very least damage the functioning and morale of the group. And there’s a good chance you will damage the credibility of the group too, especially if they can’t cope with the added work that you were supposed to be doing, or fry themselves to get the short-term job achieved and then are genuinely burnt out.
Here endeth today’s two minutes hate. Tomorrow, my favourite recipe for puppies.
(1) Mental health needs? Completely different issue. Lots of sympathy for that. Laziness and self-indulgence masquerading as… nope. Who gets to define? Tricky, but then, so much in life is tricky.