By Brett Warren, Lower Cape Indivisible
Did you know that activism is good for you? Being an activist might seem daunting at first, but the alternative—sitting on the sidelines when you feel strongly about something—is actually a source of stress, because it can make you feel more helpless and more anxious. Getting involved is rewarding—and empowering. Here are seven tips on being an introvert activist.
- Know thyself. Recognize the signs that you need to recharge. Maybe it’s that feeling of “glazing over” or sudden fatigue or “brain fog.” Eventually you might get a headache, back or neck pain, nausea, or other unpleasant symptoms. Don’t let things progress to physical discomfort—identify the early signs and pay attention to them.
- Find a phrase about overload that works for you. (Examples: “I’ve reached my saturation point.”
“I’m hitting the wall.” “I’m tapped out.” “I need time to process.”) Overload is about taking in too much information and too many details. Take a break and let your brain catch up. Extroverts also feel this way, so don’t hesitate to speak up and make your exit (or say no) if you have to. People understand.
- Figure out how to push the “reset” button and restore your sense of equilibrium on a daily basis. Exercise. Spend time in nature. Play or listen to music. Make art. Do some creative writing. Garden. Cook. Spend time with pets, children, and people who are older than you. Read. Watch movies. Volunteer in non-political ways. Reorganize your garage. Do daily meditation, even for 5 minutes—it’s restorative because it teaches you how to put your brain in “neutral.” (Try an app like Insight Timer.)
- Choose your news—not just the sources, but also the amount and frequency of information you take in. Steer clear of sensationalism on both sides of the divide. Skip over things you know will upset you. Take regular “fasts” from news and social media—you’ll still find out about the important stuff. Block news sources on Facebook that upset you, and unfollow people whose posts wear you down (maybe you disagree, or maybe they just post too much on political issues). You’ll still be Facebook friends and they won’t know you’ve unfollowed them. (You can refollow them at any time, like after the next elections.)
- Learn what kinds of activism work best for you. Mix it up:
- Postcards take less effort than letters because you have limited space—you don’t even have to sign your name. Have fun. Paul Ryan needs to know he looks like Eddie Munster.
- “Covert ops”—like printing out “leave-behinds” to put in public places—are surprisingly satisfying.
- Protests and town-hall meetings are important times to show up and be counted, but you don’t have to “engage”—you can just be part of the crowd.
- Dare to call! Many introverts dislike making phone calls, but apps like 5 Calls make it super-easy: they dial the number for you and even include scripts you can simply read when you make a call. Your total speaking time is only about 20 seconds per call, and it’s not like you have to actually meet anyone. (Often you’ll just leave a voicemail—but if you do get an actual human, they’re not going to start a conversation with you—they’ll just log your call.) Overcoming this hurdle is liberating—try it!
- Find your tribe(s). Indivisible is a great choice, but there are lots of options. Take on a specific role, help out as a “worker bee,” or both. You’ll be among people who appreciate you for who you are.
P.S. Give yourself a present—read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book will help you appreciate the essential qualities introverts bring to every aspect of our world. Self-knowledge is power!
By Brett Warren Lower Cape Indivisible www.lowercapeindivisible.com