I’ve always lived my life in shades of gray, leaning neither toward black nor white. Life is too complicated to subject yourself to a one-track way of thinking.

But this isn’t always easy. From a very young age, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pain for simply being human. And I always thought that I was wrong. I always thought that, somehow, I was actually a bad person for feeling things so deeply.

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

I often got caught up in a whirlwind of self-doubt, too dizzy to grasp the truth. In college, I spent a lot of nights alone while my friends went out to parties or bar-hopping. I’d go sometimes; but other times, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I didn’t think anyone understood me. My heart ached, constantly, and it didn’t even have a reason to. At least, that’s what I believed.

My friends, even the closest ones, couldn’t possibly accept me for the person I was, for the thoughts that taunted me, the mistakes I’ve made. This prevented me from getting close to a lot of people, or delayed these now-budding friendships. All because I was ashamed of myself.

My intentions were always blurry. I struggled a lot trying to figure out who I was, or what I really wanted out of my life, and out of the people in it. I felt like it was never enough. Like I needed more and more hands to hold, because I just kept falling down.

But then there were days when I didn’t want anyone to speak to me. When I just wanted to be alone. So, I isolated myself, silenced my phone and wrote down words I could never say out loud.

To be honest, being around people drained me. I could pick up on others’ energy like it was my own, which was exhausting. I hated seeing people upset or tormented; I reached out whenever I knew someone was struggling, at the risk of being seen as weird or intrusive (which, let’s face it, I probably am.) But sometimes, this created even more agony for me.

Having empathy makes you different from most people; and not everyone will understand you. If I knew that a few years ago, I probably would’ve hated myself for it. Because at that point in my life, all I wanted was to be understood. But I was forgetting that that was my job – and here I was, ashamed of it.

Being empathetic is not something to be ashamed of. And channeling your emotions to help others isn’t strange or wrong or unfaithful. I’ve realized that empaths tend to have stronger, more meaningful connections with others. I’ve also realized that people who aren’t empaths might view those connections in a negative light.

For example, I’m there for people who maybe I shouldn’t be there for. Like the guy who broke my heart when I was 18. Or the friend who puts me down more often than not. I find myself in situations that I probably have no business in, because I feel such a desire to help.

A lot of people tell me I only need to focus on those who deserve my attention, and let go of those who don’t. And while I agree with that in a sense, I also know that this is who I am – that if I have cared for a person once, then I always will. And I won’t let pride stop me from expressing that.

What’s so wrong with being there for others, even if they aren’t for you? Do we only give to accept?

Some people don’t understand why I have a few random yet close friends who I speak with quite often, sending texts in paragraph-form, talking about our deep-rooted issues and the things that make us feel most alive. Some people even question my morals.

You already have a boyfriend, so why do you need close guy friends? You already have a ton of friends, so why do you need more?

To some, I’m attention-seeking. To others, I’m inappropriate. They don’t understand the relationships I maintain, the bonds I’ve built. And if they can’t understand, then it’s not normal. That’s that. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just black or white.

Maybe this is my own faulty thinking. Maybe I’m the one drafting these mindless arguments out of insecurity. All I know is that, because of comments like these, for much of my life, I felt like a monster for simply caring about people.

But when I started to break these “rules,” to set my own standards, I was able to embrace my somewhat odd nature. I was able to make friends that are now family. Able to feel happiness and faith even at my lowest moments. Able to live for the day and believe in my dreams and accept my differences.

And that was the best decision I’ve ever made.

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6 thoughts on “Empathy Is Not Wrong, Society Is

  1. I commend you for putting yourself and your personal internal private thoughts and self image on a platform that anyone with a internet connection can read. As I read the first three or four sentences I immediately thought of how you and I mirror each other and then I thought if you feel this way And I feel The same as u almost to the tee… How many More people Just like us are there. You gave me hope and affirmation that I’m not crazy and I’m not the only one dealing with these characteristics and views and approach to Life. So again thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi Christian,

      Thank you for your kind words! It’s always scary to share such intimate parts of myself, but I find that it’s worth it if it means connecting with and relating to individuals like you. I’m so glad that I could give you some hope and affirmation. You are certainly not “crazy” … There is no “normal” in my opinion; we are who we are and need to work with that rather than shaming ourselves. I think what we have is a gift, despite the pain it might cause us.

      I wish you the best, always!

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  2. this is me you have totally described, I have constantly called myself a fool because of this, I give too much of myself to others, I am the one always calling my friends, I also feel like this is probably happening to me because of my insecurity and need for attention, I enjoy the positive side because I also tend to have friends that are sometimes there for me but every time I know I give too much of myself to others, I recently uninstalled my WhatsApp and promised myself not to call anybody because I just want to be on my own, I have always felt weird and I still feel weird. Thank you for sharing this, it makes me realise i am not the only one with this feeling.

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    1. Hi Yemisi,

      Thanks for your comment! Don’t worry – you’re not alone in this. I have always felt the same weight, and the same need for intimate connections with others. I feel more than most, but I’m starting to view it as a positive trait rather than a flaw. Learn to accept and love yourself fully, and live in a way that works best for you. You’d be surprised how many other people share the same thoughts and emotions.

      Hope you have a great day!

      Like

  3. I randomly came upon your blog and I’m so happy this was the first post I clicked on. I am the exact same way and I have never had anyone ever express the feeling of being an extremely empathetic person in words. It was so refreshing to read about someone who has had the same experiences I’ve had after feeling so ashamed of how I always feel the need to help and comfort others. I was also told I was attention-seeking when attention was the last thing I wanted. I just wanted to make people feel loved and let them know that they matter. I love this post and I love knowing that there are others who have realized that empathy is not wrong.

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    1. Hi Amber,

      I’m also so happy you happened upon this post! And I’m glad that it helped you feel more at ease. I struggle with the guilt, shame, doubts, etc. as well because not many people can relate to my ways. It can be isolating, but I’m also realizing that not many people are willing to open up either – and that might be why we all feel so misunderstood. I hope you know that you’re great the way you are. Don’t change, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong for having strong feelings. Trust me, the world could use more people like you.

      Sending my love!

      Like

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