I'll get right to it: I'm tired and need rest.
After a lot of thinking, I’ve decided that once I’ve completed my professional commitments for 2023, I’ll be taking an indefinite break from speaking engagements and giving presentations. This includes doing podcast interviews, writing guest posts, and participating on panels.
This decision is something I've been mulling over for a few weeks now, and it wasn't one that I made lightly. I know the information I share about accessible best practices for social media is important, and I absolutely love the educational work I do, but it was high time that I was honest with myself.
Not only am I burnt out, but I'm bummed out as well.
It takes a lot of energy for me to effectively juggle a full-time job, running a business, and agreeing to as many speaking commitments as I do. Even after I cut back significantly on the number of speaking gigs I agreed to in 2023, it still doesn't feel like enough. I exist in shades of exhaustion, which means I'm not properly prioritizing myself or my professional commitments the way I should be.
Plus, I'm going to admit that sometimes this all feels like incredibly thankless work. I know my peers in the accessibility community will understand this feeling, but most of the time I feel like I'm screaming at a brick wall.
Since early 2020, I've given more than 130 presentations to different brands, organizations, agencies, and conferences around the world about accessibility. I've done more than 40 interviews for various websites, publications, online shows, and podcasts about accessibility. I don't even know how many hours I've spent online tweeting and posting about accessibility. I've committed most of my free-time over the past few years to sharing information about accessibility. Heck, I built a whole website from scratch and self-published two books about accessibility. No one will ever be able to say that I don't throw my entire being into this work.
And yet, I don't feel like much has changed. I know good folks will tell me otherwise, but I feel like a failure most days, and that weighs heavily on me.
For every inclusive post, there are at least a dozen with huge accessibility issues. A lot of major brands and organizations still actively publish content every day that excludes folks with disabilities, setting a terrible example for everyone else. Of course, I don't expect change to happen overnight, but it's incredibly disheartening when I have to routinely remind friends who claim to support my work or brands that have brought me in to speak that the content they're posting isn't accessible.
Those situations make me feel dirty, like I'm fodder for virtue signaling. To be frank, I fucking hate it.
I'm a realist, and I've had to concede that we're still several years away from most digital marketers giving an actual damn about accessibility. For now, engagement and going viral still hold more value in the industry than accessibility and accountability (even if the latter two can help you more easily achieve the former two). And because that is a bitter pill for me to swallow in my current mental state, I'm choosing to spit the pill out entirely.
Until I'm more mentally recharged and my brain feels less like a plate of scrambled eggs, I'm going to attempt to have more personal time for myself. I will never stop being an advocate for accessible best practices for social media, and I will eventually come back to public speaking, but for the time being, I plan on doing my work in much less public ways and with far fewer deadlines involved. It's time I do things at a slower pace.
"Do not set yourself on fire to keep others warm," is a mantra I need to embrace.
So, to wrap this all up, thank you to the folks who have genuinely championed progress and accessibility, gratitude to the people who support my decision to take an indefinite break, and tough shit to anyone who has a problem with it. You'll live.
June 21, 2023
Yeah, yeah, yeah, don't worry. I'm not going to disappear and leave you with nothing. You know that's not my style. I'm programmed to mother-hen the living daylights out of everyone. I've got you covered, friends.
You should definitely visit the Accessible Social website. It's packed with countless resources, tips, and insights on how to create accessible social media content. I've even uploaded a video lesson that I routinely update. If you're not sure where to start on the site, I recommend the Accessible Social quick guide.
Yes, but only if you promise to check the Accessible Social website for answers first. A lot of my current mental exhaustion stems from being treated like some sort of Magic 8 Ball that has all the answers (when I definitely do not) or folks repeatedly asking me questions that are readily answered on the site. Don't be surprised (or offended) if I take a few days to answer your message. My executive disfunction kicks into high gear whenever I have to answer emails because anxiety is a fun life-partner.
I would also recommend joining the Accessible Social Facebook group. There are more than 2,500 amazing people in the group who are happy to help answer questions about accessibility when they can.
I do, but I'm going to check with them first before sharing their names here. The last thing I want to do is transfer my stress onto any of my friends. When I do share the names of the speakers I know, you better pay them or I will ruin your life.
In the meantime, I've curated a great Twitter list of people and organizations that tweet extensively about accessibility and disability that I recommend subscribing to.
No, I do not. I closed my calendar to new speaking engagements several weeks ago, but thank you for asking.
LOL your guess is as good as mine. I don't have the mental capacity to figure out the newsletter at this moment in time, sadly, so she's just vibing right now.
Yep, definitely. But I don't have a timeline for that project right now. It'll happen eventually though.
Yes, but probably less. And if not less, I'll probably be posting about completely frivolous stuff like whatever infuriating thing my Sim has decided to do now or my cat's latest attempt to knock me over at the ankles.
Oh gosh, where to start? For one, not skipping my lunch hour or using PTO to give presentations. That'll be nice. I do that way too frequently. I also can't wait to channel more of my time and energy into "unproductive" things like gardening and art projects. Oh and playing The Sims, too. Duh.