Burnout should never be confused with fatigue. Unlike burnout, everyone will experience fatigue throughout your activist/organizer life. Fatigue is a natural consequence of focusing your energies fully into an objective and direction. You work hard, you get tired. You need to recharge. That's the normal cycle of life. The difference between burnout and fatigue is that the person who is ideologically centered will get tired, but should never burnout. That person will engage in the time off they need to recharge. They will balance their life with things that energize them to keep going and they will never see the work through the lenses of someone who has had a bad experience. This is all true because the person suffering from fatigue will have a strong ideology that guides their work. That ideology will prepare them for the times when the work is the hardest and will comfort them during the many errors and problems they encounter. That ideology will help them view problems within the context of the larger aspects of life e.g. recognizing the difference between battles and the war. And, seeing the world beyond just our individual circumstances and experiences and being able to connect our lived experiences with the larger material world circumstances that contribute towards our individual life experiences. Not any ideology will help you accomplish this. Only an ideology that is based in revolutionary principles as well as the culture from which you arise from. What this means is since you cannot produce culture as an individual, you cannot have an individual ideology. No such thing exists because such a thing isn't materially based. Therefore, if you participating in the work only as an individual, chances are you will burn out because that revolutionary ideology can only exist within a collective context guided by collective culture.
I do not suffer from burnout, but as I write this, I am extremely tired. Exhausted actually. And, I have good reason to be exhausted. I am in large part responsible for the continuance of the breakfast program that we run here in Portland and presently, we are faced with some issues that we will need to overcome that are impacting the program. Second, I am a significant driving force in developing the school that we are building out of the breakfast program. This means I am responsible for helping drive many of the pieces that will construct and make our school project a reality. It also means there are many people, and the list grows all the time, who are depending upon me. Third, I am responsible for training and helping motivate existing members, no small task, and in helping recruit new ones, an equally formidable level of work. Finally, I serve, proudly, as a beacon for many people to seek out regarding advice, counseling, and direction for how they can play their proper role in this struggle. All of this creates a major level of stress, primarily because I care deeply about this work and worry nonstop that I can fulfill all of it. This is part of my entire mechanism that helps me stay on top of this work to the best of my abilities. So, I'm tired, but I'm not burnt out. I'm optimistic about our future and in spite of all of the obstacles, I'm confident in our ability to figure out these problems and win. I have all of this strength to continue because of the Nkrumahist/Tureist ideology that drives my work. My ideological foundation gives me great confidence in the ability to carry out the work and a strong belief, based on experience, that we will continue to move in a forward direction. By following the examples of those who have come before me I have continued to be inspired which has helped me stay focused enough to resolve difficult issues with the help and support of other comrades. I'm proud to say I believe I continue to play a major role in moving that process forward in all the work that we do.
So, what about the fatigue? Well, I've learned to recognize and respect it. In fact, I see it coming before it gets here. I told myself at the beginning of April that by the end of May (knowing the heavy load these two months would offer), I would be tired, so as I sit here today, having successfully accomplished all of the work goals set out for the last two months, I'm tired. Yet, I'm satisfied at the same time and I have a plan to address my fatigue. I understand that my feeling today that I have work to do while I long to be out at the river is my sign that I need to carve out time over the next couple of months to do the things I want to do for myself. And, I will do that. I'm taking time to visit my daughter as well as other self gratifying things. After a couple of months of doing this, and focusing on the mot prioritized work while not engaging in much of what I usually tend to get involved with, I know I'll be missing whatever I haven't been prioritizing, despite the challenges it has been offering, because my ideological foundation has taught me that the work is my calling and I will never succumb to it. Instead, I will shape it and move it forward. In fact, I realize that to be my life's mission and no force on Earth will stop me from fulfilling it. I'm so committed to this thought process that as I write this, I'm already feeling myself getting excited. Excited about the goals we can achieve. Excited about the next book I'm writing. Excited about the continued growth of this blog. Excited about the capacity we are building as an organization.
So, that's the fundamental difference between burnout and fatigue. Fatigue is temporary and with proper ideological direction, is always overcome. Burnout is a symptom of a lack of ideological direction. You can accept that or reject it, but whatever you do, you have to ask yourself how it is that people like me, and there are many of us, have been able to function in this work at a high level for such a long time, while many folks cannot complete a single project before getting burnt out and moving on to the next thing that they will crash and burn on. That's not meant to put anyone down. It is meant to honor the advice of my grandmother who told me there is nothing new under the sun. There is no reason to recreate the wheel. Many of the solutions to the problems we have are sitting right beneath us.