This is sort of a response post on a couple blog posts that I read recently.
Being disillusioned is rather painful. Nothing quite like having the wool over your eyes and rug pulled out from under you. For me that is what happened as an activist. I found out one day, I wasn’t as amazing I as I thought I was and out of frustration and disappointment, I lost myself in burn out and apathy. I guess this is a word of warning to my brothers and sisters who are disability activists. Fighting the fight for rights and inclusion, for equal status and for remaining human; it’s pretty much an uphill battle, and one that doesn’t seem to have a real outcome. So it’s why I felt like writing this, because I need to make something clear.
I am not a hero for being an activist. I didn’t go into this for heroics.
But I guess I need to explain why I went into activism and why burn out and being jaded can be so easy.
I guess what started as a venture in community turned out to be a romp through social-ethics and identity politics. I didn’t plan to be an activist, to write blog posts, to go to senators, to talk at summits to march at protests. It wasn’t in my purview. Yet I manage to do all those things and I loved it, because I had the image in my mind that I was boldly doing great things, for everyone, that I was changing the world. That I was…being a hero. That my friend was the first step on the road of a cliff into the hell of burn-out.
First, I didn’t pace myself. I threw on more projects, I tacked on more lectures I talked to everyone educated everyone with no chance for myself to breath. I got tired easy, but I kept soldiering on. Because I told myself I was making a difference. I never knew I was burning the wick at both ends that I was getting more and more exhausted and overwhelmed and that protesting publicly was traumatic. I just kept working, kept trucking along with my normal job and drowned myself in policy and social-commentary. I kept thinking that progress was happening that I was doing a good thing.
But I wasn’t watching where I was going, and I burst into flames. Jaded cynicism and apathy seem to ooze out of wreckage that was me a year ago. I wrote about it on my blog, I commented on it and I left activism I was done with the verbal abuse from parents. I was done with the public backlash; I was done with ASAN abandoning my pale pagan ass out to dry. I just had it. So when the smoke cleared I was left with a pretty real result.
I wasn’t saving anyone, I wasn’t anyone’s hero. I was a train wreck that everyone watched burn.
You don’t go into activism to be a hero, you may change and impact people, you might start a chain of events that will eventually change a law or a social belief. But it never happens quickly and there is more dead-ends and road blocks than breakthroughs. You will find out that people that you loved and were loyal to you, will stab you in the back. You will find out that people you respected turn out to be monsters. You will go up hill and fall down like Sisyphus. Everything will become a pain, a chore and startling example of human hivemind and group think. You will start to hate it. Activism is often thankless and void of gratitude. But an activist knows this, and still presses on. It with this wisdom that I realized I am only a hero for myself. That I need to take care of my needs before everyone elses. I have to see where I am in the scope of things, where I am going and if my goals match what I am trying to do with my life personally. I got to step back, and take care of myself before I burn again.
Now at round too, with disability activism, I am better prepared, I am not a hero for trying to get back on the saddle. Just a human being who wants more, who seeks the better of people, I don’t want to save anyone anymore. Just myself.