Oh hello there, space on the Internet. It’s been a while. As I lay here on my couch at 8:30 pm, I feel called to share what’s on my heart.
It’s been a tumultuous four months since I last wrote. In January, I was working part-time at Ulta and loving it. Prior to beginning that job in October, I had zero retail experience just lots of people experience. I loved talking to customers, recommending things to them, hearing about their favorite products and my coworkers. I have been very lucky in my working career thus far to have had positive coworker and supervisor experiences. While working at Ulta, I discovered something about myself that I didn’t think I would ever uncover: my need for control. My favorite shifts were our truck shifts during which we would receive new inventory and organize and stock it. I excelled given my affinity for organization, but also found I was feeling intense discomfort and resentment if something wasn’t organized per my standards. These feelings were weird and, in hindsight, incredibly dramatic, but that’s how I felt.
Fast forward two months to March when I attended my first book club meeting hosted by two of my friends. I overheard one woman say something along the lines of, “I work with my brother in marketing, but I would really like to not” in response to the standard, “so what do you do?” question. My ears perked up, I asked more about what she did and Facebook messaged her the next day asking if I could submit a resume to her and her brother. Fast forward one more week and I was hired to work part-time with that woman, her brother and his team. Fast forward another two weeks and I was walking through Ulta’s doors at the beginning of my last shift because I would now be working full-time at the marketing company. All this to say that a lot has happened in a very short period of time and it has taken until now for me to really wrap my head around it.
I am a planner by nature. Moving to Nashville was the plan. However, moving to Nashville while still unemployed was not the plan. In an almost rapid-fire fashion, plans dissipated and made room for the above to occur. It was exciting. It felt right. It felt like all of the uncertainty from the months prior was for a reason.
Now, I feel exhausted.
While growing and changing in such a concentrated window of time, my empathic nature threw a wrench into the mix. On a few occasions it even stopped me in my tracks, held up a big red ‘STOP’ sign and said “Not so fast, Ms. Kristine.” As an ENFJ (you bet I’m a Myers-Briggs aficionado), I’m a team-playing people person. I’m also very sensitive and fear disappointing others. The last ten weeks or so my sensitivity has been the star of the show.
The first time my sensitivity was an issue was in late February. I was still working at Ulta and a coworker of mine had just learned that her family would be putting down their family dog in a few hours. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on, but my chest felt heavy. Thinking I was catching a cold, I thought nothing of it and kept going. As my shift progressed, the heaviness in my chest grew, debilitating nausea set in and I began to fight back tears. The best part about this? I had no idea why any of this was happening to me – I was doing alright. Sure enough, when I got into the car to head home after my shift, I instantly burst into tears for seemingly no reason. I called both of my parents and told them about this weird phenomenon and they both in time, in isolated incidents said, “You are an Empath.”
That was the first time I had ever heard that word, empath. In a nutshell, it takes ‘sensitivity’ to a whole other level. Rather than feeling for someone, I embody their emotions, those realized consciously and subconsciously. It’s quite a riot.
The most recent occurrence happened today. It started out a normal, good day: hot coffee, fruit for breakfast, morning walk with the dog and work. Early in the work day, I began to feel anxious. Knowing that I personally had nothing to feel anxious about, I asked myself, “Who does this anxiety belong to?” (A trick I learned from mom) With no help from that question, the anxiety began to manifest physically in nausea and shaky hands (doesn’t this sound fun?). Before I knew it, my eyes were filled with tears and I was internally screaming to go home. A call to mom later on my commute back home, I was freshly cried out and feeling like the anxiety never happened. It was over that fast.
Why share these stories with you? To provide context for my current head space.
I am so lucky to have (pretty much magically) found a job that I love. To have moved to a new state, a new city that feels so homey. To have the love and support of my family a few states away. To have a loving fiancé and puppy dog. This I know.
Only now am I feeling like I can properly process all of my own stress that I endured over the last nine months since we first moved in. Only now, I am also simultaneously processing the intense feelings of those around me.
“Can’t you ‘turn it off’ – your empathy?” I probably could, but I don’t want to. Having such deep capacities for empathy has allowed me to connect with others more deeply, help them realize their own true feelings and has broaden my capacities to give and to love. I feel lucky to be an Empath. But I imagine it could be nice to tone it down a bit; I might get some extra sleep, function ‘normally,’ more consistently, to be in complete control.
So here is my head space: I’m at a crossroads.
Now I’d like to ask you, how are you?