Work Diaries: Reflections from a Young Feminist on Activist Burnout
Fatma Emam is a young feminist activist working on women’s rights in Cairo, Egypt. She is lead researcher of Nazra for Feminist Studies, a young feminist-led research organization seeking to highlight a younger voice within the human rights and feminist movements in Egypt.
Brownie is Fatma’s blog which she updates regularly with news and reflections on young feminist activism in the Arab world. The piece below is from her blog which she is sharing with the Young Feminist Wire Community hoping that it will resonate with other activists. Your comments and thoughts are welcome!
Friday, August 6, 2010
I have been thinking a lot about my career lately as major changes take place around me: my organization (Nazra for feminist studies) is finally in action and is implementing several projects in fully swing. Although I have been waiting for this for a long time and we, the Nazra team, have overcome many difficulties and worked really hard to reach this point, I find that my happiness is still incomplete. The reason is not the usual obstacles we face like government bureaucracy, security constraints or societal backlash to any feminist activism, but is much more personal than that.
I feel bad because I am losing passion; I am working with no motivation. All the things that used to inspire me seem ineffective and sometimes even do not have the same meaning it used to have. This feeling was my greatest fear; that I will be working not for a cause but as a practitioner who seeks secure employment and revenue. I do not like anything I am doing. I hate being busy with logistics and administrative or publicity tasks. I also do not have any motivation to do the tasks that I love doing most like research and writing.
I am aware that when your endeavor is a long winding road that it is natural to lose direction or passion, however this experience is really tiring me and is raising many questions in my head. I find what I am feeling very strange because I am not mid-career or well established to justify feeling bored or lacking in motivation. Moreover, I am working within a structure that I not only chose but also participated in its creation; it is my safety zone. I also still have many goals I want to achieve and ideas I want to implement.
Currently, I feel like I am only seeing the empty portion of the glass; the problems are magnified and I can not see anything beyond them. I do not need talks about the feminist cause and the difficulties we should anticipate or talks about thinking positively. I want to feel the same passion and feelings when we first started.
I know that the fundamental difference between an activist and a practitioner is the passion of the activist, and that is what I am currently lacking. I do not have any solutions and I do not know when these feelings will go away, all I know is that I really want to wake up in the morning feeling rejuvenated again with a fresh mind and a cheerful spirit, ready to make a difference.
Tagged with: burn out • motivation • news from young women • young feminist activism