How to Mutual aid when you are: a marginalized, underpaid, overworked, underprivileged, sorry little thing?
How to start and organize for mutual aid efforts if you are: -introverted; -suffer from anxiety; -lack resources; -are chronically ill; -strapped for time; -feel incompetent (imposter syndrome); -feel like you have nothing of value to offer; -neurodivergent.
Many of us feel helpless when it comes to mutual aid. We may feel small and insignificant. What is it we can do to help? We are too useless/weak/young/old/meek/insert any other limitation, existing or imposed, to be of much help to others.
I have been stuck in the place of feeling like I’ll never be of any meaningful aid to anyone ever for so long, it has expired and rotted and decomposed, so now I am using it to compost my efforts to dig myself out of this grave of helplessness.
First, shut down the narrative of yourself being weak and incompetent. Just shut it. You are not weak. You may be struggling. You may be struggling with many things at once. You may be suffering. In pain. Your struggles and your pain are valid. They are not imaginary. They are not in your head. BUT. They do not make you weak, or pathetic, or useless, or in any way or form «bad». Erase «bad» from your vocabulary. Forget it. This is what is truly useless – this little word, «bad».
Second, the usual, the drill: start small. So small that it might feel incredibly insignificant at first. Painfully petite acts. Observe the world around you, your community. Does anything in particular catch your eye? What are you drawn to? Plants, animals? People of what age scare you the least? Can you begin by possibly talking to a neighbor about their little garden? Maybe, about their dog? Do you feel like you might do well in pet care, or helping the elderly, or children? Do not offer anything at first. Observe. Learn about your surroundings. Then, as you become a bit more comfortable, see if there is a need for any small acts of kindness. Maybe, the elderly neighbor needs a bit of help with their groceries – carrying them upstairs, if you live in an apartment complex. Maybe, there is an unruly puppy who needs more playtime, and the neighborhood kids are not handling it so well. Maybe, the local small grocer needs more glass jars for home-made pickles, and you have a few lying around the house. If you find an area where you feel like you may try, again, do not make a huge commitment out of it. Do not tell yourself how many times a week you’ll help and for how long. If any of your attempts and/or suggestions are declined, do not see it as a failure. You tried. You'll try again later. You'll find something.
If you are completely turned off by the idea of talking to others, or are in too much pain to offer help outside your dwelling, there are still opportunities for you to help. Do not discard online support! You can be of great benefit to those who may be spending time online due to circumstances beyond their control.
Seek out online communities where you perhaps can lend an ear. You do not have to solve anyone's problems online. You do not have to become immersed in other people's complicated lives. But you may listen and offer words of comfort. You may relate your own stories, when appropriate. Do not underestimate the power of kindness and compassion! But beware of becoming entangled in other people's struggles, and always respect their boundaries, and establish your own.
If the aforementioned ways to offer assistance to others do not seem to correspond with your predispositions, you can still bring something of value to others. Perhaps, you have a hobby, or a talent that you may not be engaging often? You may see if you can combine your hobby with a possible perk to the members of the community. Maybe, you can knit little gifts not only to the loved ones, but to be given to strangers – maybe, there is a homeless person you see occasionally who wouldn't mind a scarf, or a pair of mittens. Maybe, you sing, and you can record your songs and share these recordings online, for free. Maybe, you write – and then you can join me and scribble incessant ramblings to share with others, and maybe, one person will read it and smile.
There is no task that is too small for you to consider. My dear comrade, you can help, and together we can spin a web of safety around us, gently, at first, modest in our attempts. But with time and with the liberation of our minds, we will implement much bigger changes for the betterment of ourselves, fellow humans, other dwellers of our world, and the world itself.