A new approach

Posted by Catherine Elms on December 29, 2016 Blog posts | Feminism | Personal | | One comment

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As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated my blog since July, which is the longest break in posting I’ve had for years. This has been down to a few things – some good, some bad – that have forced me to re-examine and evaluate my life, some of my beliefs, and the way I live. It sounds melodramatic, but it’s a long-overdue and fairly happy process!

The main changes of the last few months have been:

  1. First, the good news – I got a wonderful new job! Until recently I was working my day job at Swansea University as an Equality Assistant, which was a role I loved but didn’t utilise all my skills/knowledge/passion. In September I successfully applied for the role of Equality Advisor, working in the same areas as before but at a more strategic and advisory level. In some ways, it’s my dream job, and I really feel as though I can make a positive difference to the world in my new role. Settling into a new role has been challenging and has stretched my comfort zone enormously, but I love the work that I do.
  2. Current world political events have left me feeling burnt out, despondent, and uncertain of my purpose moving forwards. 2016 has been a total shitshow, and things aren’t going to get any better as we deal with the consequences of the events of this year, such as President Trump (*siiiigh*). Of course, some good things have happened during 2016 – this blog post draws together 99 meaningful good news stories from 2016 and is well worth a read. But I also think that it’s important not to get complacent about the rise of fascism and the far-right in Europe and the USA. It feels completely exhausting to keep fighting in the face of it all. What’s more, I feel as though my tendency to withdraw from stressful political events is no longer an option, as things have become truly, overwhelmingly bleak – now I need to use my privilege to take action and fight back against fascism, but how, when it feels as though most of the world is against people like me, and when these oppressive structures feel so huge and impenetrable?
  3. I have been spending more quiet time engaging in self-care, exercising, being gentle with myself, reflecting, and creating – although the tiring new job and political climate meant that after self-care, I had little energy left for anything else.

My new job and the current political landscape have impacted on my self-identity, my ambitions, and my political praxis – at least for the next few years or so. It feels a little bit as though I’ve been meandering along an undefined path for a few years, following a nebulous and ever-changing definition of ‘success’ and ‘fulfillment’. After a few months to myself, I’ve realised that from 2017 onwards I want to blend the three aspects of my life that have until now been somewhat separate – my work life, my music, and my activism. Up until now I’ve split my energies across these places, and they’ve lived alongside each other but never really feeding into each other. This has been neat, but tiring. After some reflection, I’ve realised I want these 3 facets of myself to work together, and for people to see these different aspects of me in all that I do. I want to bring my radical feminist politics to work, and to my music, and bring my music into my activism, and so on.

What does this specifically look like? I’m still working that out, but a few ideas I have are:

  • Writing more music with strong feminist themes
  • Blogging more about feminism and the cool stuff I do at work
  • Donating more time and money to causes that I believe in
  • Donating music proceeds to charity
  • Sharing my sometimes radical opinions at work as much as possible
  • Keeping myself informed on relevant social justice news/issues

This is a new approach that will take time to fine-tune, but it feels like the right thing to do, at least for now.

MUSIC NEWS: my next gig is on Friday 27th January in The Garage, Swansea, where I’ll be performing as a support act for ‘Epic: The Rock Show’. Tickets are £8 and can be bought online in advance or on the door. Join the Facebook event here. Hope to see you there!

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