BURNED OUT?

WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER

I've been feeling really burned out lately. I take my own advice—I rest and luxuriate in simple self-care rituals. I plant things and gather together with loved ones for good food and energizing hikes. But I still feel tired, every day. I forget to call my Senators. I skip out on strategizing sessions. The energy that powered me through the first traumatizing, terrifying 100 days of Trump's Presidency is tumbling from a waterfall into a still pool. 

Burnout makes me feel guilty. I look at my life—how profoundly supported I am by my family, how beloved I am by my friends, how lucky I am to live into a city mapped by towering trees and burbling creeks—and I think how is this not enough to keep me perpetually motivated? Burnout makes me angry at myself too. To feel dejected, to struggle to fight—those experiences are gifts we give to our fascist regime and man, I'm not interesting in giving those capitalist cronies ANYTHING. 

It took a post-run collapse on the hill outside my home for me to realize the transformative potential of burnout. I sank into the grass, out of breath, and stared up at the mottled blue sky. Rain clouds coming in blanketed the bright green arms of budding trees in grey. There was a soft wind rustling the grass—the blades luminous in the golden hour light—and I felt so awake to everything that was around me in a way I haven't as an activist the last couple of weeks. I held the world and let her hold me. 

Burnout is like any emotion. The only way to work through it is to dive into the heart of the storm. Fighting burnout only made me more exhausted. Sitting on the hill, in love with the light, grass, trees, with this world that renders me speechless every day, I saw my burnout as an opportunity to change the actions I am taking—to refocus my work on rebuilding, to recenter my writing as my activism. I thought about ways I could carry my moment of golden hour communion with me. What about this moment made me awake? And what can I do to bring that sense of aliveness, alertness to life in my every day work?

The next few weeks for me are going to be about exploring new pathways. My intention is to ground myself in daily rituals—evening runs, morning watercolors—that nurture my creativity and offer consistency during the hard, uncomfortable, illuminating work of finding fresh channels. I'm going to learn about different ways I can inhabit and enact activism. So if you have any strategies, loamy loves, please share. We are capable of building the world we want. Even in my burnout, I know that to be true.