By Natalie Dragota
Empath: (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual
Let me tell you a little bit about being something called an “Empath”, because it has changed my life considerably. An empath is said to be a type of human whom has the ability to feel others’ pain as their own- to the extent that their capacity to empathize can be incredibly overwhelming. When I was growing up I always found my ability to empathize with people to be very strong; I remember crying with my friends when they were sad and never being able to control it. I remember watching those sad videos in elementary school, and having to look up to the ceiling to hold back tears. I would always look around and wonder why no one else was doing it. I always thought that as I got older it would become more controllable but was proved wrong when I would come home after a night of bartending feeling drained from depressed beings that would sit there and talk to me. I would go home and feel like I had all their problems with me. Energy is contagious after all- any human can vouch for that. When I turned 18, I went to a psychic who told me that I am a healer, and that if I control my ability to emphasize with others and repel their energy I can learn how to use it to help people. But let me tell you it has been hard.
It is hard when you are on your way to work on the subway and feel the sudden urge to cry for no reason, only to find the woman standing beside you is crying. I feel everything. I feel my cat’s sadness when I leave the apartment. I cry when people that walk by me are crying. I cry at animal videos. I cry when I’m listening to a really good song. Everything moves me. Sometimes it is beautiful. But other times it feels like a burden and it makes it very tough for anyone to understand without merely referring to you as oversensitive- which is mostly seen as an undesirable trait. When in fact, I have been through a lot, endured, and people have told me I could walk through fire be fine afterwards- so I know I am strong and not overemotional. It has to do mostly with others and feeling what they are feeling. Perhaps the hardest part about it is forming intimate relationships with people. I am naturally drawn to people I want to help- and they are naturally drawn to me. With that being said I repeatedly find myself in situations with people that I end up helping more than I myself and always end up being the one who gets hurt. This is why I now know to stay by myself until I get the help I need because there is only so much you can give to people before you don’t have much left for yourself. It has caused me missed days of work, lost weight, alcohol problems, anxiety, etc.
Perhaps the most interesting part about being an empath is how some people admire your ability to feel everything deeper. I have friends who tell me they wish they could be as vulnerable with people as me- when this is always a trait I figured made me weak and a bulls-eye for heartache. Because on the contrary to empaths, there are also individuals who don’t feel as much as one generally should. When most people get hurt, they tend to become more closed off. But any time someone hurts me, I always imagine how they must be feeling as well or how hurt they must have been to have done that to me. Consequently, I open myself right back up to people which leaves me wide open. My friends have told me they wish they could be as open as me, and find it challenging getting to know people.
So maybe you are an Empath, and not oversensitive. In which case, you should utilize it and learn how to control it- as I am only beginning to. I used to hate my ability to feel- but I’m growing to admire it, as are others around me. If you are an empath, you aren’t alone. You aren’t weak either. You are a special breed of human that is not alone and the world needs more people like you. I only wish people had told me this growing up, before I knew what I really was. Being an empath can be like a double edged sword with no handle. But hey, when a friend plays a good jam on their guitar for me and I start crying it makes them feel really good. And when a friend is crying and I start crying, at least they know they aren’t being overdramatic. I am beginning to like who I am and so should you.
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