We know what burning out is like. It’s the sad truth.
However, we refuse to sit here and let people lose their faith in an organization that they’ve invested so much in the past few years. Burning out never really feels like a choice, but we are here to say that while your passion might not be a choice, it is a choice whether or not you attempt to re-inspire that passion for yourself. There are ways to reignite the flame. We hope to bring attention to some of the causes and solutions to burning out, so that you can prevent it from happening and remember why you’re here. These solutions may require your community to work together, whether on a chapter, council, regional, or international level.
Here are our stories about why we are so familiar with burning out and how we reignited our flames.
I burnt out because I felt like I wasn’t being recognized for my work. I felt like I was putting in all that I could have for my chapter and region, yet was never getting the thank you I deserved. Yes, I have been discouraged. Yes, I have felt disappointed. Yes, I have wanted to take a break from BBYO.
Yet, my dedication to BBYO drove me to persevere and write this article. Being dedicated to the success of BBYO, my chapter and region, drove me to persevere and realize that I didn’t need recognition. Yes, it might be nice to receive compliments. But after persevering so much, validation isn’t necessary. Having enough confidence in your work, that compliments and validation should not take over, is what will push you through. To that person who took credit for your program: do not let them discourage you. To that job you accomplished but did not receive compliments for: be proud of yourself. To that end result that did not go your way: keep trying. Dedication and perseverance are the solution.
I burnt out because I’ve lost. Lost a BBYO friend. Lost hope in a program doing well. Lost an election. In the moment, losing is the most unfortunate feeling. When you are passionate about accomplishing a goal, you work hard and are determined. When this hard work does not pay off, life seems unfair. No matter the experience, how big or how small, everyone has persevered or is still preserving through their own sense of loss. Persevering through losses means gaining confidence to meet new friends when you lose old ones. When losing hope in a program, you learn how to improve for the next one. If you lose an election, you feel stronger going into the next one– inside or outside of BBYO. How you choose to take the loss is what matters. You can sulk and regret it– but what will that accomplish? You can take action, gain confidence, use the loss as a learning experience, and feel powerful for the future. Take care of yourself by taking action.
I burnt out because of the stagnation. As I became an upperclassman, I felt like I was attending the same, re-used and irrelevant programming. I felt like the region and the chapter wasn’t developing permanent and updatable resources for our initiatives or lessons, and the resources we had needed to be updated. Without change and updating our lessons and programming, underclassmen are not taught enough, some lessons might be left out, and they might end up making the same mistakes as they become the leaders. These resources grow, flourish, and maintain themselves with a strong and educated class. In the case that programming becomes redundant, the chapters and regions end up waiting for another strong class to come and take over– to do the same annual programming. I don’t think this should be the case.
We need to continue to build our programming and not just stick to the same-old-same-old. Older members should be attended to with fresh programming that’s applicable to them, just like the new members get programming they’ve never seen. The attendance of older members at events is key in shaping the passion in younger members, and many older members choose to not attend conventions or events because the experience is too similar every time. By having older and experienced upperclassman members keep track of important lessons and document their new ideas and progressions in an organized and manageable fashion, it can be easily referenced throughout the development of a new class.
Shake things up! Do a funny class with senior members where they learn about new adult responsibilities from an AEPi member, or an Israel-Palestine Conflict on Campus program. It’s interesting and engaging. Start regional clubs where members from any chapter can meet on Tuesdays and play Yu-Gi-Oh or discuss Fantasy Football. Anything! So long as you shake things up. Give members something new and they will keep coming back for more.
I burnt out because of disrespect. I understand that gossip and talk are human nature, but every teen in the movement has the depth to introspect and make changes. It may take time to learn how to do this, but it's honorable to at least demonstrate effort. Learning how to catch yourself talking and stop. Being calmer and consistent in politely asking your friends to stop when they talk over a program leader. I’ve experienced this– and the program was ruined because of it.
Eventually, chapter members will be able to stop themselves from disrupting a program, but it takes effort from everyone. Making a conscious, visible effort, means a lot to everyone else around. If I wanted to sit around and tease my friends for a weekend and talk about whatever makes us giggle, then I’d ask some random kids from school to hangout. Willful respect and organization is what distinguishes AZA from any other group of guys hanging out on a weekend.
PURPOSELESSNESS - Some people need to take on responsibilities to feel like they have a purpose or are committed to the chapter. Delegate work and make sure to let committees and chair positions pioneer some of their own new ideas. Try to increase transparency and push for more democratic courses of action. Allow members to have a say in the important decisions.
LACK OF IMPORTANCE - Legacy is integral to our culture as a Jewish people. People want to be known and remembered for all of their hard work. Make award ceremonies a regular occurrence or make random social media appreciation posts.
RECRUITMENT AILS - Don’t focus on numbers with recruitment. Recruit someone who can develop a quality relationship with the chapter and their friends will follow in tow with timely pursuit. When you recruit for numbers, new recruits may not click well with each other causing dysfunction within the chapter’s social fabric. Develop quality relationships and experiences for a few new recruits and numbers will come naturally.
CLIQUES - Chapter, Council and Regional boards should try break up cliques by pulling a member of a popular clique away from their friend group and putting them one on one with a new member they might vibe with. Stay with the cliquey member and the new member until they are comfortable with one another and begin to develop a bond.
COMPETITION - Competition is a good and can be a healthy motivator, but it can make failure feel even worse. Make sure to have a varying spectrum of involvement so that way members can leverage their position to make an impact and be recognized no matter what it is.
BOREDOM/STRESS - Make work fun and meaningful. Do work with others, whether in person or over a call, and incorporate things that make you laugh as you do it. Make it fun for the others you are working with too, especially younger members. They will take on the BBYO work habits you impart on them. Make sure to teach them that work should be fun and meaningful, while also productive.
POLITICKING/GOSSIP - Politicking is terribly toxic. Rumors are gross and do horrible things to the social fabric of the Chapter, Council or Region. Politicking counteracts the values of a meritocracy, often influencing unfair results and heartbreak for honest, deserving members. Don’t participate and address politicking when the issue does arise.
ELECTION LOSSES - Be honest with people who lost elections. Give them any space they may need, but don’t let them slip away. Go after them, go to their house, knock on their door and see how they’re doing, hang out with them. Make sure they feel loved, make sure that they feel dedicated to and remember their purpose in the chapter. Make them feel like they can leverage their position as a member to make real change happen. Let them know how they can improve in a constructive way– after they’ve recovered from their election loss.
UNFAIRNESS - Don’t just vote for friends. Vote for people of good moral character, who are qualified and who listen at least as much as they speak. Listen to speeches, read platforms, consider past events and weigh the candidates in a wholesome, fair, and genuine manner.
HELPLESSNESS - Talk to your advisor more. Make them your BBYO parent. The more they know the more they can help. The more they are involved, the closer the chapter feels and the more of a resource they can be as members get more comfortable with them.
Passion is like a flame. Upperclassmen should ignite it for younger members. But it’s up to you to stoke your own and others’. Do not let a few bad experiences discourage you from burning out. Instead, use them as lessons to fuel your flame and keep it powerful, bright, and raging.
This article was written with Nadav Warszawski, who is another correspondent for the Shofar. Nadav is an Aleph from South Jersey Region and is usually hungry.
Anna Schulman is a BBG from New England Region who loves going to the beach, skiing, and taking pictures.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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