Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm not just activism

How to provoke a full scale meltdown while trying to do the opposite:

Bring up my activism, especially as it relates to a kid I actually know, when I am already upset or feeling insecure or unvalued for whatever reason.

Wait, what? Activism is important and awesome!

I never said it isn't. But doing activism sucks. It is difficult. It is unpleasant. People say truly abominable things to me and about me, they lie about me, they attack people I care about deeply, they physically threaten (or occasionally attack) me. It never ends. There's always a battle, it is always uphill, it always sucks. Activism forces me to use skills I am not actually good at to try to get society to do things people don't want to do because in their eyes I and people like me don't deserve them.

Activism drains me. But I do it anyway, because I feel a deep responsibility to the neurodivergent kids I know, and the ones I don't know. It is my job to help people like me build a world that doesn't attack us for existing. If I don't fight a lot of these fights, no one else will, and then I have failed people who are going to have their own shit to work through. That sucks.

The bad thing about accomplishing things in something as unforgiving as activism is that no matter what, you're expected to keep going, and it sucks. The bad thing about accomplishing things in regards to activism is that keeping going becomes your only value.

I do more than activism, though. I am more than activism. But that doesn't mean I am valued as more than an activist. Sometimes I wish more than anything I could quit, but I know, just know, that the only reason people tolerate my presence on this planet is that I get shit done. If I am no longer useful, I no longer matter. No matter how thoroughly exhausted I am with everything, if I don't keep going, don't keep fighting, my existence no longer has meaning, I no longer have meaning, there is no point to the continued existence of Neurodivergent K.

It's a lot of pressure, being only known or respected or liked or whatever because of doing hard shit. If I fail, I don't just fail at fixing the things I was fixing. I fail at being even remotely worthwhile as a person, because all I am defined as seems to be activism.

And that isn't what I want. I cannot handle that. If I were to quit activism tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, I need to still matter because I am a worthwhile person. Not just because I get shit done, but because, activism or not, I matter.

I need to be more than my advocacy. I have to.


Anonymous said...

I know its corny-sounding, but you are more than your activism. Just by having your blog and writing, you've helped me and I'm sure many others to know we're not alone and that we matter, somehow. And that's incredibly important. Even if you "stopped tomorrow", you can't undo that.

Anonymous said...

Yes. You're a complete person who gives awesome names to her cats (as cheap and little as that sounds). Someone treating you as though your activism is all that matters is making the same ableist "productivity" demands as the rest of culture, just wrapped up in activist rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

It's how most of us originally met you, but the lucky ones among us get to learn the other awesome things about you.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to read this blog, first this article: People sure love you for who you are and you are more than your activism.

Unknown said...

I know this feeling too well. . .

Anonymous said...

I agree with Third Glance.

And I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the knowledge and different perspectives you have given me. Each and every child that you have help, be they in person or through the online world: that means something. Not just to the child, but to their families and loved ones, to the rest of society. If you helped one kid, then you give them the tools to help others and so the wave stays in motion. I know that probably doesn't mean much right now, but honestly, thank you.

And even if you stopped being "Neurdivergent K"? If you switched blogs (and let us know!) I would still read what you write. Because you're more than just the "activism".

You're a human being with an awesome perspective to offer. Not just on a particular subject (ableism/activism/whatever), but just through the way you express yourself, unapologetically, with a soulful honesty that would be hard to match. I enjoy reading you for you.

I am sure this is the case in your "real" (offline) life too. You are special and I believe you would touch people in the same way whether you did so purposefully (through activism) or not.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add some personal experience that I didn't remember when I posted my last comment, I know this feel. I know it well.

I had an entire relationship with someone who, best as I can tell, "loved" me only for my activism. That was horrible even though I was too close to see it at the time.

Anonymous said...


I'm not so much an activist.

But I'm very good at something very hard, that not that many people can do.

And the attention and appreciation I get for it can feel a lot like love.

But I wonder how many people would actually be there to care whether I lived or died, just me, if not for that.

PaganPrincess said...

you have always been more than activism to me, and always will be. but as someone in a similar life circumstance and profession, I feel your frustration very keenly some days. keep writing and venting it out. it will help refill you on emptying days

S. said...

You are more than your activism to me. We don't talk very much because i feel weird calling and i don't really bother talking to people on facebook opinion may not be valid as we probably aren't friends or anything. But...I care about you and I like you. It has nothing to do with the activism. I mean that is AWESOME, don't get me wrong. But it has absolutely nothing to do with why I initially started bugging you. And there was never any "tolerating". I did not have to tolerate you. I genuinely enjoyed talking to you. Honestly, I am surprised that you tolerated ME. Umm...I didn't realize that it was so difficult. It never occurred to me that there was a downside to activism. For what it's worth you were never just your advocacy to me.