Struggle is not necessarily failure: on the importance of self-care

8 Feb

As a blogger with the Abortiongang, we are compelled to write about current events surrounding reproductive rights. This usually involves cultivating an anger or, at the very least, a frustration of some sort that provokes a post. But what happens when, as an activist, you become so overwhelmed that your activism stalls?

I’ve been trying to write a new post for a month and half with no success. I have a copy of said post saved in my “Drafts.” It still doesn’t say what I want it to say and I’m not sure it ever will. In and of itself, this is disheartening because I have a passion for words. When they don’t come out right, I feel like a failure. Combine this with my currently evolving life, and I’ve found myself with less and less motivation to tap into that passion that is so utterly necessary to activism. The rest of my life has been too exhausting to expend my anger here.

So what do you do when you find yourself deleting, en mass, calls to sign petitions in your inbox? Or not attending protests in your area? Or ignoring your deadlines for the blogs that you write for? (Well, before it gets to be too depressing and embarrassing to acknowledge that you’ve been slacking…?)

Recently, Serena wrote about self-care, and how we need all need to take better care of ourselves within the movement. Obviously I agree with her. Self-care is extremely important because burnout is all too real. But I don’t feel that I am at the point of burnout, necessarily, just trying to deal with a case of the “laissez-faire’s.”

After struggling for some time, I gave myself permission to acknowledge that my life is kind of screwed up right now and I’m doing the best that I can, and that is OK. My friends and my community have certainly all been there, and they will understand.

By simply giving myself permission to be in the place that I am, I was able to take the next step: taking off my blinders and shifting my focus. Instead of agonizing over a post that may never be, I’m writing this one. Cathartic, to be sure, because I’m actually doing something, just not the thing I originally intended. Will this post have as great an impact as the one I intended to write? I don’t know, but right now, I don’t care.

Finally, I got together with some other activist lady-friends and spent most of the time NOT talking about activism. We drank lots of wine and played with some puppies and talked about life, just not the activist life. It was refreshing and necessary and I love those ladies for spending the time with me as friends.

The moral (if there is one)? Stopping to rest isn’t necessarily stalling. Struggle isn’t necessarily failure. Life happens; having the support of your friends and community is important, but what may be more important, motivating and successful is to make peace with yourself where you are.

2 Responses to “Struggle is not necessarily failure: on the importance of self-care”

  1. Katie O'Connell February 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    So I write for a feminist blog at my university and for my post tomorrow I was writing about this exact topic… the feminist fatigue and how I deal with it. And I found this post to be really helpful and inspiring. I push myself constantly and feel incredibly guilty when I want a break from activism and from feminism, even if it’s just for an hour or a night or what have you. So I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your approach to self-care and taking breaks, particularly that a necessary break isn’t stalling or failure, but sometimes a necessary step. And I appreciate the assurance that as feminist activists we all go through this.


  1. Even Rebel Girls Need A Break Sometimes « - February 9, 2012

    […] Another author at the Abortion Gang blogged about self-care yesterday, a post which I found while looking for the other AG post I referenced earlier. And this post is one of the first things that has really made me feel relaxed in a while. I find that it’s always gratifying to know other feminists are going through struggles similar to mine, facing exhaustion, a desire to just do nothing, ignore the onslaught of unhappy feminist news and petitions and blog posts. At this point in my life, in this long stage of feminist fatigue, I think it was necessary for me to read someone else’s experiences, and their acknowledgement that taking a break, however long, is not only okay, but an indispensable tool for feminist activists to recharge so we can stay consistently committed to activism and not be resentful of our activist commitments or exhausted while we are doing them. Share this:FacebookTwitterStumbleUponPrintEmailDiggTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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