The Pros and Cons of Being an Empath.

March 28 2016

I didn’t know the word for what I was until a few years ago. My entire life, I wondered why I felt with more complexity than others. I tried to chalk my turbulence up to being moody, but it was more complicated than that. Eventually, I understood what I am and realized that being an empath is gift, that sometimes doubles as a burden.

On one hand, I have this kick-ass intuition (pro). I can read people and their emotions like a book. I can sense motivations (pro). This has helped me be good at my job. Flip side - it’s impossible to separate myself from the negativity of others. I can FEEL everything they FEEL (con). Depending on the person, this can leave me in a variety of states:

Example: At my grandfathers funeral I was fine, UNTIL I saw my grandmother crying.
Example: When someone I love feels wronged, I get angry FOR them.
Example: When I’m around people with bad vibes (you know the type), I walk on egg shells and CANNOT shake it until they are gone.

Television shows can also affect me in bizarrely intense ways. This severely limits my Netflix options (con, lol).

Example: I only watched 2 seasons of Sons of Anarchy. I gave up. The violence was too much.
Example: I suffered through Making a Murderer. Watching Brendan Dassey on that couch, I BECAME him. I felt interrogated! I panicked when I couldn’t remember my alibi, (joke!) and started shaking before my boyfriend finally agreed to shut it off (not a joke, major con).

With crowds I can go one way or another.

Example: my boyfriend DJs for a well known hiphop artist. After shows, it takes me three days to recover. Not because I drank (I don’t drink) or because I stayed out late. It's because of the energy of the crowd. Everyone is searching for something so desperately... it’s as if they are not whole. They want to meet another person, be another person, take home another person, etc.

The collective missing pieces amongst 1,500 strangers empty me (con).

Example: I went to a John Legend concert and glowed for days. You don’t know what a room full of love is until you’re alongside 3,500 others singing “All of Me”. I still can feel it to this day. (pro).

That’s another thing that can go either way. Feeling things forever.

Example: As a kid, I hadn't quite learned how to control my super power yet so unfortunately, I was picked on. In 5th grade circumstances required that I transferred schools, which was exciting! Fresh slate!

September 1st, I showed up to make friends. Little did I know, “popular girl #1" from my previous school, took dance classes with “popular girl #2” from my new school. Therefore, everyone knew who I was. because “popular girl #2” had mandated that no one come near me.

15 years later my best friend recalls this and laughs: “Yeah, that was so fucked up!” She giggles, but I don't. I feel that every day of my life (con).

Let’s end on high note though. Because being an empath is actually a good thing. Even though I have a such a hard time saying “no" to people (con), it’s facilitated amazing relationships I don’t think I would’ve had otherwise (pro).

And as I learn to master this super power (and sometimes burden) that I seem to have, I learn new tricks to free myself: Mindfulness.

And love myself: Appreciation.

And be better for those around me: Gratitude.

Thanks for reading.

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Boston, MA

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