Burnout – you’ve probably either heard about it or even experienced it yourself. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything in our political world today, and also easy to forget to take a second to care for ourselves. Burnout is very real-so what can help prevent it?
On August 5th, the United States’ first ever Youth Poet Laureate introduced a very simple solution: literary talismans. And the best news? You can create your own right now without any materials needed and most likely in the course of five minutes.
Before we can establish what your literary talisman is, we’ll need to clarify what a literary talisman is.
A talisman itself is an object that’s purpose is to protect and ground you. Sort of like in Inception when Leonardo Dicaprio carries around that spinning top in order to make sure he’s not dreaming. The object grounds him and keeps him protected. As usual, good thinking Leo.
So what is a literary talisman? The term was debuted this weekend by the United States’ first ever Youth Poet Laureate: Amanda Gorman. That’s right, America has its very first inaugural Youth Poet Laureate right now. Her job is to bring more youth voices into the political space through poetry.
She also goes to Harvard…
During the first weekend of August Amanda was in New York City speaking at an event called the She’s the First Summit, which focuses on creating solutions to poverty through girls’ education. The NGO, She’s the First, works all year round to provide scholarships for girls who will be the first in their family to graduate. Amanda spoke on a panel about art and activism and introduced us all to this new term.
A literary talisman is a phrase, usually 1-4 sentences, that “speak[s] to your identity, your history, and your hopes.” For Amanda, her literary talisman is: “I am a writer. I am descended from black freedom fighters who evoke change and changed the world.”
When it comes to staying motivated and grounded in both creative and activist-centered work, Amanda says it’s important to “be highly aware of your own personal purpose.” Sometimes you don’t get the recognition you want for your hard work or your work is misunderstood, or sometimes it may feel like your work isn’t helping others at all.
“I write these down about myself, then I repeat them to myself in times of doubt, anxiety, or insecurity, and it reminds me of who I am. Whenever I’m in the bathroom crying, or I’m like ‘aw this thing I wrote didn’t get published,’ I repeat this to myself and I’m fine because I know myself and I know what I stand for.”
These literary talismans can be posted to a vision board, written on an iPhone note, printed on a tiny piece of paper to put in your wallet, or heck, it could even be tattooed on your body if that’s what will really remind you of it in times of need.
Here are Amanda’s ingredients to create your own literary talisman:
- One sentence which speaks to your identity.
- One sentence on your history.
- One sentence on your hopes and dreams.
Literary talismans are intended to keep reminding you of the bigger picture, or why you’ve set out to do the things you’re passionate about, and why you continue to fight for the causes you believe in. So next time you feel yourself beginning to burn out, pull out your literary talisman and repeat it to yourself silently or out loud to ground yourself and re-energize your purpose.
Now go forth and write your very first literary talisman. Leo will be proud.