There have been really difficult times in my life where I feel as if my compassion is a negative quality. I think there are times I’ve cared for people far more than I should have, and I think, ultimately, that can hurt us as people. But how do you know where to draw the line? How do you know if caring for a particular person is going to end up negatively affecting you?
This past year of my life, this topic has been heavy on my heart. I struggle with wanting to be there for people and wanting to love people well. I’m a sympathizer. I feel sorrow for people and their hard times. But when is the care that I have for them too much? It’s too much when it’s hurting you more than it’s helping them. It’s too much when you’re consistently drained, and you can’t get anything back. Despite this, it’s important to care without wanting anything in return—with truly selfless intent—but there are times you NEED to be poured back into, whether it’s by that specific person or even others.
This past year, I learned a lot about that. I learned what it means to truly care, and I learned that it’s easy to care too much for people who don’t receive it. More importantly, I learned that it’s worth caring about people because you just might find somebody who cares for you the same way, and that’s beautiful to me.
I’ve recently made a friend who has displayed what true friendship means, and it has drastically impacted my friendships to come. I am used to sympathizing with people. It’s something that’s familiar, but that sympathy is usually towards people that have struggled like I have. One day, I was sitting with my friend in the middle of a deli restaurant. He was real with me. He shared what he struggled with, and he explained how it affected him throughout his entire life. Now, this wasn’t something I had any idea about struggling with. This burden was never one that I had to carry, but for the first time, I found myself not only sympathizing but also empathizing. My heart was straight up broken for a person, and I had never experienced that before. But I’m glad I did.
As people, I think a large portion of us have the ability to be solely driven by our emotions. As an INTJ, I am personally more logical, but this situation was different. There are some people who pull on your heart strings. There are some people who are heavy with weight, but I know that true friendship is choosing to carry more weight because you care for that person. While we were at this deli, I was casually crying my eyes out, and I shared the things I had struggled with, too. Not because I felt like I had to, but solely because I wanted somebody to know who I was and where I had been. He didn’t have to sympathize or empathize with me, but he chose to. He chose to speak life into my life. He chose to care, too.
I’ve cared for people too much. Maybe they didn’t have anything to give. Maybe they didn’t care. But it was those feelings and emotions that felt wasted at one point that truly defined what it means to me to truly care. You don’t have to be through all of your problems to be able to pour into people. You don’t have to drop all your weight to carry somebody else’s. Pouring is a choice. Taking a little bit more weight is a choice. Caring is a choice.
I hope you have people, like my new best friend, who care just as much for you as you do for them. I hope you realize that you both bear the weight of what you struggle with. I hope you pour with pure selflessness. I hope you don’t worry about being empty. I hope you are brave enough to know when you’re caring too much. I hope you are willing to care for people you never expected to care for. It’s in these times that we are brave enough to care that we find people that stick around—friendships that LAST. I think that it’s worth it, you know, caring for people. I think it shows us what we’re capable of, and most importantly, I think it has the ability to bring us to people that change our lives forever.
Thank you to my new pal for showing me true friendship. You made the impact, and I am forever changed because of your vulnerability and kindness.