As I began diving deeper into what outdoor advocacy looks like and how I wanted my life to reflect my beliefs, I was immediately overwhelmed with the tidal wave of information and all of the things I should be paying attention to. When it comes to the climate crisis, environmental advocacy, and the outdoors, the information can be very overwhelming and it honestly scares a lot of people off. I know that I took a long break in writing because I was, am, intimidated by what I was getting myself in to. Although I believe very strongly in protecting and advocating for the Wild, the web was full of hate towards people doing too little or doing too much and getting it wrong. I know it’s scary, but as I’ve spent this time educating myself, it’s important to recognize that all of this information needs to be taken in and researched slowly and deliberately. Haphazard research leads to leaving information out, offending people, and overall remaining ignorant to important issues.
That being said, although we can try, we (environmental educators) individually cannot possibly cover all topics, or even everything within one topic. Unless we are specializing in one specific area, expect the information to be a summary with references for more information. We are constantly learning and growing through our communities as we work together towards intersectional advocacy. Although we want to educate you and keep you informed, we are human. Usually there is always more that you can discover through another educator, through your own research. Know that everything that you need to know from one topic is not necessarily covered by any one educator. Additionally, writers write on what is important to them. If they miss or skip information, it isn’t always due to intentionally leaving information out, although sometimes preconceived biases towards certain aspects of a topic can cloud an educator’s writings. It can be because that educator cares more about the environmental impact and less the social impact, or because they care a lot about the ocean but not so much about lakes and rivers. Recognize the writer and their chosen avenue of education, and give input on their information. Don’t be afraid to offer advice or your thoughts; whether they are headed by the educator is their choice.
It’s important to recognize your own boundaries, as well. The world is in a constant state of disarray, it is so hard to keep up with it all. It is hard on your mental health, as important as the issues are, to constantly flood yourself with advocating and staying informed. As I delved deeper and deeper into attempting to understand, I found myself in a constant state of news and social media burnout; I couldn’t spend any more of my precious energy read any more articles concerning important topics, no matter how much I knew I should. Through your own journey, make sure you leave time to take a deep breath and pay attention to yourself and your surroundings. It can feel selfish, at least to me, to want to be in the moment with myself and my loved ones when so much bad is out there. I am still trying to find the balance between educating myself, burnout, and being in the here and now. Staying educated and well requires staying in tune to the news and your self, two different frequencies that demand a certain level of energy. Make sure you are wisely distributing your energy so you can properly stay educated, inform others, and be well.
Reminder: It is okay to feel overwhelmed by events happening on the earth. It is okay to take a break. It is okay to not understand everything. In order to take care of our Wild and the things we care about, we must also be able to take care of ourselves.