With so much passion for a variety of causes lately, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about activism and keys to keeping it alive in your life for the long haul:
There’s always bad news to find. If you’re a part of a movement of any kind, you get in this routine of constant fight and struggle because there is always bad news to find. Yes, something bad could be happening right now, but at the same time, something good is happening too. There is a balance to life. You have to learn your passion and continue living it no matter how you’re feeling in the moment, or even if you fall into the trap of thinking that all is lost. Focus on the good.
Stop thinking in terms of “War” and “Fight.” I don’t think those are the right words to motivate. War is not something people want to do for the rest of their lives, and that’s where the impatience comes in. If it’s a war on something, a fight for something, you think there’s going to be an end and there’s not. Evolution is a constant thing. I encourage you to change your mindset to thinking you’re married to activism, meaning it’s a lifelong journey you’re committed to. Embrace the relationship, good and bad.
True activism is trying to make the world a better place, not you a better person. What you’re trying to achieve may not happen in your lifetime; are you OK with that? Another thing to consider is you’re fighting for people in your community who don’t care about the cause, yet will benefit from your efforts. Are you OK with that? You have to change your mentality from “What am I going to get out of this?” to the idea that you’re doing this for the greater good, which will benefit everyone including yourself.
Benchmarks and goals. The way I keep my momentum up is by not forgetting to celebrate the victories. The problem with activists who run out of steam is that they never stop and enjoy their work. If you pause to revel, you gain confidence, momentum, and the understanding that your work is worth something. On a long road trip, you have to stop and rest; it’s the same with activism. Once you form those goals and celebrate their achievement along the way, the possibilities are endless.
You can’t feel you are lesser-than. It doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through. It doesn’t matter who beat you down or cautioned you not to be too ambitious. You can’t have a self-perception of lesser-than. There is a certain section of each community that truly believes they are lesser-than and have grown comfortable in the victim role in whatever they are doing. I am the victim, the world has done this to me, it’s not going to get any better no matter how hard I try, and that mentality has had a negative effect on all causes. Remember that the people we admire, the people who’ve made real change in this world, never have that attitude.
I vowed never to be an old, bitter activist whining about what I didn’t get. No one wants to hear from such an individual anyway, so strive during these times to encourage and inspire younger people to continue working for your cause. In turn, you’ll end up inspiring yourself.