ashley uy with bohol waves

It’s Okay to Take a Break from Community Building

I just want to be clear(er) and say that these are my thoughts and my opinions on how I, as a volunteer community builder, consider taking a break from volunteer work to avoid a burnout. Other volunteers might have their own methods, preferences, and opinions but I hope to create a discussion on how our communities here in the Philippines see volunteering and how inactivity doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of passion.

It’s easy to give it your all, to immerse yourself fully in what you do, and enjoy every success or failure that comes with the high. Given that, it’s also easy to forget yourself; your health and your own self-development especially if you start the whole community building gig early on as you develop (and figure out) your career.

Sure, you’ll be forced to learn a heck ton in a short time frame especially if you’re handling event organizing: project management, people operations, digital marketing, partnerships and networking, finance and accounting, and so much more; but sooner rather than later, you’ll find yourself giving your skills and knowledge more than getting new input… which is okay, don’t get me wrong, but it’ll only get you so far in your own quest for growth and knowledge as you get used to the flow of things.

Once you get good at it in your own space, you’ll start to notice the little things. The stress, the pressure, the expectations set by the community you’ve helped build, the dependence and feeling of accountability; and this feeling just skyrockets especially if an issue comes up like a failed event because of an under performing team member or an upset sponsor. In short, you’ll get tired really fast and then you’ll burnout really fast too.

If they don’t want it, don’t do it.

You can tell I’m speaking from personal experience on what I’ve been feeling throughout my community building journey. I’d like to think I haven’t burnt out yet and I’ve just acknowledged it “in the nick of time” that I was close to it and so I was still able to do something about it.

Since this personal assessment, it’s here where I adapted the “if they don’t want it, don’t do it” mentality when doing events. I used to stress so much about “why don’t people come to this meetup I organized” or “if you you want this event to happen so badly then help me out here” and wonder why this great, progressive thing just isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Later on, I realized, it’s just because people don’t want it enough.

It sucks working alone, despite what “the lone wolves” say. Especially when you’ve seen the advantages of working with self-driven and passionate people towards a greater cause. So when you’re doing a project, where you’re giving your time, effort, and energy for a supposedly “collective” cause for free, why would you still keep going if no one is driven enough to help you push it through the end? Wasn’t this supposed to be a community effort? It just doesn’t make sense.

Adapting this principle has reigned me in and made me wiser about the communities and events I choose to affiliate myself with. It has given me time and space to focus on developing myself but at the same time still continue to support the causes I believe in. Some might disagree with me, saying this way of thinking is harsh and selfish, but nevertheless this mindset has been working for me. It has kept me out of stress and from overworking myself and, so far, 2017 has been my year away from prioritizing community and work to focus on myself. And I am liking me time very much. 😊

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