It is so easy to read the news these days and be overwhelmed with the horrors that are affecting people everywhere because of the climate crisis. As young adults in this generation, we feel the urgency to act as our governments are polarized, our land is poisoned with broken oil pipelines, and droughts push people off their land.According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the turning point for the climate crisis will be in 2030 when many of us will be in our late 20s or 30s. We need to start making changes now if we are going to meet the target set by the IPCC, and the situation seems really hopeless. Policies and mindsets change at a pace so slow it’s easy to feel like nothing is even happening.
I am constantly overwhelmed with the feeling that I am not doing enough – that I am not enough. I feel like I must make a difference wherever I am. When I graduate this December, I feel as though I need to have a plan figured out for how I am going to fight for environmental justice.
Since my first year, I have been a part of EcoPAX, the environmental club on campus. In my second year, I became a co-leader and in my third year, I helped start the Goshen Sunrise hub, which is a part of the larger national Sunrise Movement organization. Last year, I was the co-hub coordinator for the hub and a climate ambassador for the campus.
Each year, unsurprisingly, I have struggled with burnout. I have been living and breathing the climate crisis and I am exhausted.
I felt an urgency to get as many students involved as possible in an event or at club meetings. I felt that if we didn’t have a well-attended event we had failed and we would never make a difference.
I feel anxiety in my chest even as I write this article.
What I thought I needed was a break from being in a leadership position. But I don’t think that is actually what I need.
I think what I really need to be reminded of is why I have become involved in these clubs and organizations in the first place. I am so fulfilled after connecting with others, hearing their stories and learning from them.
I feel rejuvenated when I am reminded that I am not alone in this fight.
I feel that the root of this crisis is that we have lost our connection with the people and the Earth around us. We feel alone and disconnected. This is why we can allow corporations and the government to exploit others and our land. We are so disconnected that it takes huge wildfires, deadly heat waves, and once-in-a-generation floods for us to even start opening our eyes to the damage we are causing each other.
In order to handle the immensity of the crisis, sometimes I can’t think about the massive national and global governmental change that needs to happen to really make a difference in this crisis.
I just have to remember and relearn how to connect with the people and the Earth around me. I need to keep remembering that it is not up to me to finish the work, but I cannot give it up either.
We must keep fighting for a liveable future.
From climate burnout to hope