Burn out and how to avoid it

Here’s the thing, I have a problem with wanting/needing to DO ALL THE THINGS. I’m not the only one who feels the need to hold myself to almost impossible standards. All my garb must be hand stitched/embellished/trimmed, all my trim must be handwoven, all my bardic pieces must either be written or adapted by me and I must have a new piece for every performance. Oh and I want to play mandolin, learn old English, and spin. All while having a full time job.

There are limited hours and energy to do everything. When you try do everything you end up burning yourself out and hating the whole deal. Instead of being fun, your hobby becomes a slog with one commitment after another after another until you forget why you wanted to do this in the first place.

So how do you avoid this?

Well, in some cases you can’t. IE  you’ve taken on a job that has certain requirements that need to be met. In that case you mark your calendar for when it ends and count days. HOWEVER! In most cases? Burn out is avoidable if you remember these three things:

  1. You are encouraged to ask for help.
  2. Your standards for yourself are higher than anyone else’s standards for you.
  3. This is your hobby not your livelihood.

You are encouraged to ask for help.

Please! If you need help organizing an event? Find a friend and ask them to help you. If you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to a specific art/craft/fight you can ask someone who knows. You do not have to try to learn everything on your own. You do not have to juggle everything. Know the phrase ‘many hands make light work’? Same deal.

This is hard. Especially for someone, like me, who is a wee bit of a control freak. You have to trust that the person you’re handing tasks off to is going to follow through. Without you losing your mind nagging them. Don’t do that. That’s rude.

Your standards for yourself are higher than anyone else’s standards for you.

No one at events is checking my seams to make sure they’re hand stitched. No one notices or cares if I flub a line or don’t have a new piece. The world will not end if I do not have handwoven trim on every dress or tunic. Does typing that make me twitch? Yes. Yes it does. But! It’s also true. No one will judge you for wearing last  year’s garb or having modern forks in your feast gear.

This is your hobby, not your livelihood.

I can not stress this one enough. Look, guys, a lot of us take the SCA very Very seriously. I’m certainly guilty of it. I love the SCA. I love that on any given weekend (or day with social media) I can surround myself with other people who are my flavor of geek, who appreciate the work that I’m doing, and actually understand why I’m excited about the differences between spinning with a period style drop spindle vs a modern one. This is the sort of thing that makes your coworkers eyes glaze over and mentally note to never ask how your weekend was ever again.

But, at the end of the day, we are a made up society with made up titles, and we all agree to pretend together. And that is a beautiful thing, but not worth your sanity. If you feel yourself starting to dread going to events, for whatever reason, or having the mental debate between work and SCA, you may want to step back for a bit and breathe. Repeat after me:

This is my hobby, not my livelihood.

Nothing will explode or crash and burn if you take some time for you. I took a two year hiatus because mundane life was exploding and trying to juggle that and SCA was a very Very poor life choice. The great thing about the SCA is that you can step back if you need to, and it’ll still be there when you’re ready to come back. Guys? We just collectively turned 50. I don’t think we’re going anywhere any time soon. Your mental and emotional health is more important than winning that tourney or getting your garb done perfectly.

My personal mantra: history has enough crispy Saxons.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me I’ve got some spinning to get done and a loom to warp and garb to cut.

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