Smarter people than me know about all this. Here a few of my favorite reads:
- Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, Let’s Talk About What We Are Talking About
- Madison Mahdia Lynn’s most perfect guide to finding how you fit in to the world of activism
- A special word to white women (dude, we can be doing good AND doing better)
- Deepa Iyer, Letters to the Revolution
- And a nice guide to not losing your mind during the revolution.
Here are my own two cents.
Engage in deep learning. Read more history, read more literature, and take heart in the ways that humanity survives and thrives despite crises. This is a great resource for reading in the area of immigration history.
Think long term. Responding to every call to action is exhausting and unsustainable. You want to be able to summon just as much anger in June or in 2019 as you can now. That will only be possible if you focus and prioritize now. If going to rallies gives you energy, go early, go often! If they don’t, consider whether there is one that matters especially to you, and go to that one. If making phone calls to elected representatives daily exhausts you, think about setting one 30-minute period each week to make calls so you do not need to think about it the other days.
Build relationships here and now. Realize that there is immense value over the long-term to building relationships with the people near you, whether it is your colleagues, your classmates, your neighbors, or the people you see at the coffee shop in the morning, or the young couple you always see walking their dog in the evenings. Being connected helps. And you never know how those connections will help, in small and big ways, in the days and years to come.
Avoid guilt. Some people will seem to be doing everything. Do not compare yourselves to them (and they may well be the ones who are exhausted and burned out by June or 2018). Try doing a little more than you are completely comfortable with, but do not imagine you can go from a non-political introvert to a megaphone-toting organizer in the span of a week…and that is ok!
The Smallest Things Matter. If you notice someone doing something you really admire, say thank you. Maybe buy them a cup of coffee, or just send a text with a really good bitmoji. Hold the door open for someone. Really mean it when you tell someone “have a good day.” Tell a stranger how awesome their dog is. Etc. Sound trivial? It’s not. As someone who has been, many times, in the epicenter of activist stress and anxiety, I promise that gestures like these have turned my day around.
Breathe. Literally. No, you don’t need to become a meditation guru (although that’s a pretty great idea, too). You do need to pay attention to when you’re holding all your stress physically in your body (clenched fist? Tight chest?) and learn to take a deep breath in, and a slow exhale out. That’s all. The more the better, but start with one deep breath in, and a slow exhale out.