A few years ago, my mom got me hooked on the late 90s/early 2000s TV show Charmed (watched the whole series- loved it!). Brief synopsis: three sisters find out they’re witches and madness ensues. My favorite character has always been Phoebe, the youngest sister, who is filled with spunk and sass. For a brief period, she becomes an empath. She can feel other people’s emotions- not sense them- feel them. To an overwhelming and even unbearable point.
I am an empath. Not in a supernatural sense, but in a very normal, completely human sense. The best way to explain is by example. So, for example, the minute I walk in the house, I can feel how my mom is feeling. And you can imagine- the stronger the emotion, the harder I feel it. So if Mom’s had a bad day- watch out! Similarly, I get very overwhelmed and even flustered in large, chaotic crowds (but for some odd reason, crowds don’t bother me as much in Europe- maybe because Europeans are so laid back???), and sometimes I don’t notice until I’m angry “for no reason” (or rather, because the person in the passenger seat is, and I’m just feeding off of his anger…). But I’m getting better at filtering out others’ emotions to just get to my own.
Anyway, I think we’re all empaths to an extent- maybe not as extreme as I am- but in the sense that we feed off of the people around us. Humanity is a social species: we’re constantly interacting with other people’s auras and emotions and the energy they’re sending out into the world around them- the world that we live in. And that’s why it’s of the utmost importance that we surround ourselves with the right people.
I’ve done a complete 180 since middle school. I’ve changed a lot- or grown a lot- or become reacquainted with my uninhibited self- who knows: those three things are often misconstrued for one another. Regardless, I went from being a shy girl who was subordinate to her own shadow to a really outgoing one whose confidence is admired by others.
But the thing that really made the difference in all that was the people I surrounded myself with. During sophomore year, I hit a rough patch- quite possibly worse than those dreaded middle school years. I was not with the right people. Ever since I got out of that group, though, my life has been so much better and I’ve been so much happier.
The people you choose to have in your life matter.
There comes a time when you have to say “enough is enough: it’s time for me to take care of myself.” Seventh grade through sophomore year I was in the most destructive friendship I’ve ever experienced. My now-ex-friend was having a tough time through her parents’ divorce, and I did what I could to make things easier for her. But when she continued to get more domineering, aggressive, and abusive, I had to make a tough choice: do I sacrifice my happiness and mental health to “be a good friend?”
For awhile, I did. And for awhile, I somehow managed to stay afloat. But then I began sinking. Being abused psychologically and emotionally takes a toll. And that’s when I made the call. Time to put myself first. That’s not being a bad friend: that’s knowing when you’ve done all you can and it’s time to walk away. Besides, in cases like these, a broken person can’t really help fix someone else, especially someone who isn’t ready to accept a helping, healing hand.
I am living, breathing proof that the people you surround yourself with matter. Getting out of that “friendship” (and a whole group of friends along with it) was one of the best decisions I ever made. Now I”m surrounded by people who are happy (genuinely!). And you know what? I’m happy too! They’re at peace; I’m at peace.
Sure, being an empath is exhausting sometimes (like when I was trying to help that friend), but when surrounded by the right people, you’ll find that it builds you up instead of tearing you down.
Cherish the people who brighten your life.