Last week, I spent my time in Washington DC at a legal tech conference. Obviously, that has nothing to do with this blog,, that conference is all part of my day job working in a law firm.
But, one thing that is comparable is what I call the “conference bubble”, and the risk it carries with it.
When I refer to the conference bubble, what I’m talking about here is the intense learning environment that a tech conference can be. It’s overwhelming. You spend all day in educational sessions, and all night networking and talking to your peers about the things brought up during the educational sessions. It’s a tremendous opportunity to surround yourself with innovative ideas, make a ton of contacts, and friends, share information, and learn, learn, learn.
In short, it’s one of the most exhausting weeks of the year.
It also tends to be a week when the world outside of the bubble gets fairly well ignored. News stories would need to be absolutely enormous in order to break into the bubble conversation, sleep and self-care get put off until the weekend, (Or if you do try and practice some level of self-care, even that turns into a networking opportunity, like group runs!), and you can even start to feel slightly disconnected from your actual home and office during the week.
That’s all fairly normal though. Our brains can only deal with so much at once. In this sort of intense learning environment, we’re processing so much new information, and so many thoughts, that there’s not a whole lot left over for the other stuff. And, for a week, it’s pretty exciting without being too much of a risk. When I think about this community though, the mental health and child abuse survivor advocate community, what I fear, and what I’ve seen too often is that people become their own conference bubble. Look, there’s a lot to learn and discuss when it comes to mental health and child abuse. Literally, there is a ton of research being done, and thousands of stories that should be told about it. It’s important. I fully support anyone who wants to learn and do more to spread the word and help people in any way they can. But, we have to know our limits. That intense environment last week could be that intense because we all knew that come Thursday night, that was it. We’d all be going back to our homes, and our jobs. When you start down the rabbit hole of advocacy, there’s no Thursday night. It ends whenever you decide to step away from it and focus on something else for a bit. Unfortunately, I see too many people who don’t make that decision, letting their self-care and other areas of their lives slip in the name of “doing more”.
Let me be blunt. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do more for the cause. There is, however, something very wrong with not being sustainable. I’d much rather see a million people doing advocacy as part of their life, than 100 doing it full force all the time, and then completely dropping it because their own health has failed. So please, by all means, educate yourself, learn and share when you learn about these topics, or whatever topic you feel strongly about. But don’t lose yourself in it. Come out of the bubble and have some balance. You’ll be a better advocate for a longer time, if you do.