It is safe to say that for the entirety of my life I have felt supremely misunderstood. There has rarely been a time, space or memory in which I recall feeling 100% at peace in my interactions or a sense of total belonging in any location. When I was younger , I whole heartedly associated this with being a child of first generation South Asian immigrants, I myself being born in their country origin. To some extent, this element has been true in terms of consistently feeling trapped between cultures and not quite fitting entirely into either. However, there’s been another component which is innate to my nature that I have discovered to be even more at play in this sensation of misunderstanding; my inherent and unyielding empathetic nature.
Recently, I’ve become aware of the rhetoric that exists around human beings that have a unique and sometimes destructive ability to be more aware of others emotions and in turn subconsciously take these onto themselves. We’ve all heard of the existence of such people but perhaps lack the understanding of how deep seated this ability runs. Consider a sponge if you will, it absorbs everything element of liquidity around it merely by its presence in that location. For those who believe in the spiritual side of things, this takes its human form in the presence of empaths, or those who are more sensitive or attune to the feelings of others around them and quite literally feel with those people. Whether or not I subscribe to this idea, it sounds increasingly familiar to my own nature.
This endemic and deeply rooted ability within my own self is one that isn’t a choice; it’s inherently instinctive. This in itself is a fact that those around me have often tended to misunderstand. Throughout my life I have consistently been told the same thing ‘that this isn’t your problem’ and ‘you can’t save everyone’. There have also been questions of ‘why do you care so much?’. The truth is, it is not a definitive choice that I make, it is purely based on intuition and instinct whereby I feel with the person or persons around me and absorb those emotions within my own psyche subconsciously. I tend to sense whatever emotion they are feeling and then pick up on it without even realising. There have often been times where I have walked away from a situation or interaction and felt such a sense of sorrow and despair and now known the source of that feeling but been confident that I didn’t walk into that encounter with that sensation.
As I’ve gotten older I have been reminded of the importance of creating personal boundaries in order to protect myself from picking up on the negative toxicity around me. This is something that I still struggle with every day; it’s a lot harder to fight against instinctual actions than rational decision making capacity. Regardless, I try every day to be better at this in order to use and tap into my intuition to help the ones I love and serve humanity through my work as a development practitioner. So, if you find yourself in a position where you’re wondering why I care so much, perhaps now you’ll understand better; or at least I hope you will.