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social justice

Wow… I’m Tired

There comes a point in most folks life and work where you just feel… tired. I don’t just mean feeling tired after a day of work and needing to sleep at a decent time. I don’t mean “we stayed up a bit later than usual last night” tired.

When engaged in social justice work relentlessly in both my professional work life and my personal life, including my hobbies, there comes a point when I burn out. There comes a point where I feel like all I am doing is living and breathing issues of inequity, constantly fighting and pushing the status quo for social change. There comes a point when I feel like I am one of the only people really pursuing social justice… and I become isolated. There comes a time I see so much hate, pain, and sadness, I feel desensitized and without hope. There comes a time when I even see all of my allies burn out. When I experience this type of tired, I can get as much sleep as I need, I could be physically energized; however, I feel sluggish and unmotivated.

How do I reenergize? How do I keep doing the work that I do while still enjoying and loving my work and hobbies?

First and foremost, I rely on my allies and mentors who are also doing the work. I mentioned up above, I often see my allies burn out with the work. For me, I try to support those folks when I am feeling headstrong and energized in social justice work and turn to those same folks when I am feeling burnt out. With the give and take (and hopefully a staggered “burn out”), we are able to hold each other up – stand up for each other – when we feel like we can’t by ourselves. A concept that is hard to remember is the connection of different oppressions and liberations. Sometimes I think a certain issue isn’t my issue to stand up for because it doesn’t directly affect me. However, oppression is connected and my liberation is tied to all other people’s liberation. I need to use my energy, privilege, and knowledge/skills to stand up for others working for social justice. And hopefully those folks will stand up for me.

Second, I turn to my hobbies, board games and books. I know I approach both of my hobbies from a critical perspective to examine how our systems of privilege and oppression influence the hobby. But sometimes I just want to have fun. Sometimes I just want to enjoy a book. I have often wondered if I really can turn off my “social justice” sense. BUT I have found games I have already analyzed to be easier just to have fun. And I also have my favorite books and short stories I can pick up to read a favorite passage or chapter. All with a big mug of tea!

I am currently on the path of reenergizing and recharging. More posts to come once I do 🙂

What do you do to recharge?


2 thoughts on “Wow… I’m Tired

  1. Im not sure what exactly you mean by working on social justice, but im going ahead to assume what it means for everyne else. Posting current events on social media under the context of racial prejudice, checking people’s priviledges, maybe it’s blaming current problems on people’s opinions, and not their actions, etc. Either way, social justice is not real work, it is the sense of entitlement someone gets when they find a way to exert their power in certain situations, it is ganging up on people with different opinions, accusing them of though crimes, it is cyberbullying. However, if you are out there physically helping people in need, then you should really call yourself a humanitarian and not associate with these people.


    Posted by kennethone | October 1, 2015, 5:26 PM
    • Thank you for your comment. I have a couple thoughts on points you brought up and hopefully we can come to some common understandings of where we are coming from. I started this blog to share my experiences in the world in terms of my two favorite hobbies, gaming and reading. And I decided to approach my experience through a social justice lens. What I mean by social justice is the equal distribution of wealth and privilege across all identity groups. Through my personal experiences I have seen firsthand the inequality and inequity across many identity groups (race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, nationality, socioeconomic status) and any work I do towards changing the systems and institutions that uphold inequity/inequality I consider social justice work. I am concerned (and a little frustrated) that you called social justice work “not real work” because I find the work I do to be real, to be tiring, and to be a fight every single day. Sometimes the results of my work is not tangible but it is real all the same. This work exists on different levels, from individual awareness to institutional/system changes (e.g, policy reform, etc.). And posting on social media and blogs can be a part of the awareness piece – to share my own narrative and experience. Another important piece of my work is affecting change at the institutional level to impact the root cause of many of this inequalities.

      I want to validate your own experience with people on social media and say I have also seen many people debate and push their views and experiences on other people and it comes off hostile and it shames those with “different views.” I do want to offer a challenge to your idea that all folks who challenge views are cyberbullies. First, many folks get defensive as soon as their view is challenge and I would encourage everyone who faces a challenge to look at the bigger systemic implication of the challenge – you mentioned “checking privilege” which I think is an important piece of awareness of inequalities. I have seen folks post things like “Ohhhh you need to check you privilege.” I can see how something like that can come off as hostile AND I think learning and dialogue about privilege and how it impacts us as an entire community is essential to understanding some of the power dynamics that exist in our country. At the end of the day, I believe in having dialogues together. This isn’t about “I’m right and you’re wrong,” I don’t want to turn you or anyone off from engaging in the conversation. I want to have a dialogue where we can listen to each other and come to a common understanding about our experiences. It is hard to dialogue effectively over the comments/tweets/facebook/other social media. Second, from my own experience, sometimes I get so frustrated and tired and angry with the backlash and the hate I receive from talking about my own experiences, I respond in very reactive, defensive, and angry ways. And I know it’s not helpful, but sometimes I need an outlet. Not an excuse, just insight into how I handle my triggers.

      This is all my own opinion and my own experience. In no way do I speak for all social justice advocates or social justice workers.

      I am interested and open to hear more about your own experience. Thank you again for posting your comment.


      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by Brendon | October 12, 2015, 10:56 AM

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