Am I empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate?.... Yes, yes, yes, and too much… far too much. This is not a humble-brag, it’s a problem. I’m a second-generation finder of strays and misfits. I’m chronically incapable of giving up on anyone, even when I should. I don’t get frustrated with people and toss them aside. I don’t say “no” when I’m asked to do an inconvenient thing that helps another person. I don’t have an internal bitch I can switch on when a man is talking to me and I don’t want to be bothered; for some reason, I’m still polite and personable even as I say no thank you. I don’t think this makes me a better person than other women. I don’t think empathy and compassion put me ahead in any way. Sometimes I really wish I didn’t care so much what happens to people and animals and, for God’s sake, inanimate objects that I anthropomorphize, choosing to take the dented can that nobody else will buy or the stuffed animal with the defect that no other kid will love.
Extreme empathy is a kindness to everyone else but a cruel joke to the person giving it. It’s not that I don’t have boundaries; it’s that, even when I recognize the need for boundaries and turn away or refuse or say not this time, I’m still deeply troubled over the person in need— particularly when I know that nobody else will be likely to give of themselves to the needy person the way I do.
Having a strong set of street smarts but an overly compassionate compulsion means that I’m very difficult to take advantage of intellectually but very easy to take advantage of emotionally. I’m a sucker for the broken. I’ve stood by men who were clearly no good because I saw their potential glimmering just under the surface, and I felt guilty at the very idea of leaving them alone in their pain. I’ve put up with friends that everyone else has moved on from because I see the value in them behind the messiness and mayhem. I’ve stayed up countless nights fretting about people I’ve never met whom I’ve heard were in distress.
There are certain movies and certain scenes that I simply can’t even watch because they devastate me too much. It’s exhausting to care so much about so many living things so much of the time. If I could temper my empathy, siphon off the extra and give it to people who manufacture too little, I would— the way mothers have throughout the centuries with their breast milk. If I could take a pill to suppress my sympathy… that would be mighty appealing. If I could clock in and be compassionate from 9-6, 40 hours a week with a one-hour lunch break, I might choose to.
Yet I have to believe there’s a reason I was given such an overdose of care and sympathy. I hope it’s been helpful, that it’s made the world a little bit brighter for at least a few people. And on a purely self-serving level— if anything compassionate and empathetic can also be self-serving— I think that ability to meet the minds and cares of other humans has made me a better artist and a wiser person. I hope my exhausting capacity to care does more good than harm.
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“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
One of the biggest and most common problems with improving your life or the success you want out of is that you may not take consistent action over a longer time period.
Now, consistency isn’t the sexiest or most exciting word. But it is, coupled with time, what will give you real results in your life.
Sticking with the program and doing something consistently – and not just when you feel inspired or something like that – is very, very powerful.
This is something I have struggled with a lot in the past. And on some days I still do. But over the years I have found a few things that really help me with this.
One of the most fun aspects about being ME and embodying the tempestuous tantalizing tumult of the rock renaissance, is hearing from my adored fans all over the world. I do try to answer each question put before me, and recently I received a query unlike any other. “Can you remember the feeling you had at the moment you were getting dressed to see the band mates? Your thoughts… Especially when you were in love. What was the feeling when you looked in the mirror and knew you were going to see him? And what did you wear to feel powerful? Was it important?”