I have been noticing lately what an empathetic person I am. This strikes me as a bit funny, because I have really prided myself in the past for my ability to control my emotions, and the fact that I am not your stereotypical emotional female. However, other people's emotions really rub off on me.
Rarely do I ever cry over experiences in my own life (it has to be something very major), but sad things in other people's lives get to me. When people that I care about are having an emotional day, for good or bad, I do too. Obviously to a bit of a smaller extent, but I tend to mirror them. A few examples:
One day a student was crying because his classmate had called him a cheater at Heads Up 7 Up. He was quite distraught, because he had not been cheating. He was crying, and I was just talking to him about how he should not let other people define him. I told him that as long as he was not cheating and he knew that he was doing the right thing that he should feel good about himself and not worry about the other person. As I was telling him this I felt myself tearing up. I was really confused. Who knew that was such an emotional game? Not I.
I was dating someone recently, and he had an awful day. He was feeling really upset about it. Something had happened with a friend that really wasn't his fault, but he felt like it was, and it had him really down. I could tell how sad he was about it and even though I was not even involved in the situation it really brought me down, too. That night and part of the next day I was feeling kind of mopey, too…. Until I realized how ridiculous it was to have a bad day just because someone else was.
I think that even though it can be a pain sometimes to feel what other people are feeling so strongly, that I really benefit from it too. I like being able to truly see where people are coming from. I like that they know that I really do care, and that I want to understand and be there for them. Because of this trait, I think that those in my life: friends, family, students, etc. can really see that I love them and are able to take comfort in that.
Maybe instead of my empathy getting the best of me… Maybe it is the best of me, and right now I really need to be looking for those things.