Of the many roles that I perform in my every day life, I think that my favorite is the one where I am offering support to others. At the same time, it is probably the most exhausting and can be far more taxing than I like to admit. I think that being available and willing to care for others is an important part of my identity, but I sometimes worry if I am doing myself some sort of cosmic disservice by become too busy with everyone else to pay attention to my own immaterial needs. Being there for someone isn’t a strict social obligation, but for myself and many deeply empathetic people, it’s something that we have grown accustomed to taking on without a second thought. Providing interpersonal support can be deeply rewarding, but it can also take a heavy toll on the care that you are able to give yourself.
A few days ago, I tweeted the thought that later grew into this blog post. A few of my friends reached out to me and we talked about our experiences with emotional labor and the pressure to “be everything for everyone”. It was good to hear that I wasn’t uniquely tragic in my personal history on the under-discussed emotional burden being there for others. Lately, I have been trying to develop a set of best practices in order strengthen my ability to offer support without comprising my own well-being. Setting boundaries about how much I can take on and what things I am willing to bear for other people has been a work in progress, but I am hopeful that I’ll figure it out eventually.