For as long as I can remember, I've been exactly what my old therapist called an "emotional sponge". Partly because I want to help as many people as I can and really do care deeply about people as soon as I meet them and partly because I truly get satisfaction out of helping people get well or feel better.
I've learned--after a draining life of giving everything I had to give emotionally to people who had no problem taking it--how to take my overwhelming maternal instincts and superhero complex and keep them in check. For a long time, I had to go cold turkey and pretty much blow off anyone that was in need. I went back to therapy and learned how to sort out the people who were going to take advantage of my needing to be needed and the people who actually needed me.
It's been a much healthier life, but part of me feels like I have more to give. I was a stupid girl once, and have always been almost obsessively in touch with what I was thinking/feeling/going through, along with what everyone around me was thinking/feeling/going through. I have learned so much in my short 27 years, and feel like I could help people (especially young girls), so they don't feel alone like I once did.
As a teen, I went through depression, insomnia, lots of problems with my girl parts (endometriosis) and lots of relationship horrors. I learned how to get through them with the help of my mom and therapy (and at times, medication). I became so interested in psychology and why we're all different (mostly men and women) and I ended up studying those differences in college and also doing my senior thesis on teen depression.
I found shoeboxes full of old letters friends had written me in middle and high school. They were hilarious, sad, heartbreaking, and borderline insane. I was an emotional sponge back then and that's how it all started. The saddest and most traumatized kids seemed to find me like a moth to a flame and in between the letters (that got progressively more serious and terrifying), I cut interviews with my mom and little sister describing me as a teen. My mom found me to be overdramatic at times and always seeking acceptance and attention from boys I wanted to love me. My sister said the same. It was hard to hear, but the whole point of the piece was that I wasn't being over-dramatic. It was that dramatic to me, as a teen. It was all I knew. To adults, it might seem silly, but it truly can be very real and depression needs to be taken seriously, not laughed off. I was lucky enough that my mom took notice and stopped seeing me as dramatizing things and started seeing me as someone who needed help.
Anyway, long story short, I've always second-guessed my decision to pursue the career I chose. There are many careers I'd like to try my hand at and being a counselor or therapist is one of them.
I started using StumbleUpon the other night while I was bored. It's awesome. It took me to a page called The Compassion Pit. Wow. There are venters and listeners. You can be on either end of the chat, but it's one on one, totally anonymous and people can talk about whatever they'd like. I've ended up helping two different girls who were going through very similar situations I've found myself in and learned from. They were so grateful after we spoke and thanked me and it made me feel... fulfilled. Needed. Appreciated.
It's been really fantastic. It's like people who have real jobs and paint or take photos on the side, but reversed. I don't mean people's problems are my hobby, but hobbies are something people do that make them feel good and they enjoy and are interested in, right? So far it's been nothing but positive. As of now, I see it as another way to spread positivity and keep myself looking up. Thought I'd share in case there are any other listeners (or venters) who can get something out of the process.
There's always someone you can talk to! Even if they're on the other end of a chat room... Sometimes that may even be better than talking to someone in person, no (especially if you happen to get me ;-)?