Lessons Learned from a Year of Insane Activism

Tess Martin
4 min readDec 31, 2017
Image Source

When I say this year has been bananas, I’m not kidding. In the last twelve months of focused, frenzied, nonstop activism, I’ve learned lesson after valuable lesson about what it means to truly make change in my community and beyond. This kind of rapid learning on the fly is what happens when you get thrown into the deep end to sink or swim, right? Turns out, I can swim, but not as fast as I’d like. Yet. Still, the experience has been invaluable, even if a little batshit crazy. Here are some of the things I know now that I didn’t know this time last year:

You can’t champion every cause

Initially, I joined every organization I could find (and even helped start one) and went to meetings or an activity every night of the week and all day on the weekends. This feverish insanity went on for months. It helped to fully immerse myself in the local political climate, becoming knowledgeable about all of the issues that mattered. Unfortunately for poor, introverted me, there were way too many issues that I cared about. I ran myself ragged and fell into a perpetual state of bleary eyed exhaustion that wasn’t emotionally or physically healthy, nor was it sustainable long term. It took going through a hurricane to realize that I needed to prioritize and carve out personal time or I was going to burn out all together.

People will disappoint you

I’ve met more people in the last year than I have in the last decade. No joke. Riddled with anxiety and unable to remember a person’s name for the first twenty times I ‘meet’ them, I think I’m doing pretty damned well holding it together socially. I’ve met some seriously kickass people since the 2016 election. These folks are closer to me right now than people I’ve known for decades. We’ve been battle tested and run through the ringer together. I’m stuck to these fellow activists like glue and would drop everything to show up when they needed me.

But there are also people whose conduct, lack of interest, overall shitty attitude, and unwillingness to follow through on anything they commit to doing are constant sources of frustration. My mother didn’t raise a goldbricker, so if I say I’m going to do something, I damned well do it. I can’t understand people who don’t show up or complete a task they’ve volunteered to…

Tess Martin

I’m a writer, runner, functional introvert, and herder of cats. Find me at www.theundercoverintrovert.com or on Facebook @ theundercoverintrovert.