What does it mean to ‘care too much’? I’ve wrestled with that question so many times. After accusations from my friends that I was putting quite a bit of time and effort into the wrong people, I wondered if maybe it was simply a nice(ish) way of saying I was too emotional, had too many damn feelings. But it spread beyond that. I was told I fought for relationships long after they were gone, that I gave my heart to men who didn’t deserve it, that I was too forgiving, or there for people who ultimately would never show me the same in response.
But I never saw my actions, my emotions to the extent they did. I was simply doing what I felt was right—not trying to wear this badge of honor, not trying to be the ‘best’ friend, ‘best’ girlfriend, ‘best’ daughter, even ‘best’ ex. I wasn’t boasting with pride with every step, or beaming with confidence in every word I spoke. And I wasn’t trying to be this martyr figure, ‘Oh look at me, how much I care and how little I get in return.’
I was simply being me—not overbearing or motherly or pathetic or incredible—just caring. Because I did. Because I should.
Being ‘too much’ has always been engrained in my genetic makeup, I suppose. Always wanting to save the dying baby birds that had fallen from their nests, always overwatering my succulents, always doing dumb things for boys like buying them dinners and clothes and overwhelming them with affection they probably didn’t need. It came naturally, that desire to fix, the need to care, the involuntary love I had for the people in my life. And most times this was wonderful, but sometimes this felt like its own kind of burden.
I used to resent myself for my ‘caring too much.’ I felt like I was living my life with my heart on my sleeve—asking to get my heart broken. But then I found value in who I was because people aren’t like this. They’re too quick to run, to leave, to give up.
People don’t fight for things. They don’t stand beside their significant other and battle the world. They don’t give until they have nothing left, and then give some more. They don’t stay.
And that’s where caring too much has value. You care enough to be there when people need you. You care enough to fight, to pursue, to love, to be there.
And maybe that’s where everyone goes wrong in thinking that girls who care too much are weak, are foolish, are just asking to end up shattered. Maybe being this kind of person means you’re so strong you don’t worry about the outcome of yourself—you’re too focused on supporting those who need you.
But what happens when the girl who cares too much gets tired? What happens when she needs someone to carry her, to build her, to strengthen her when she falls to her knees? What happens when she can’t stand up and fight, when she’s the one who needs someone to believe in her?
What happens when the girl who’s been trying to save everyone else, needs saving?
The tables turn. The game changes. The emotions flip and suddenly the world feels like it’s tilted off its axis. Suddenly other people have to step into shoes they’re not quite ready for. They have to find the words to say; they have to seek strength within their own two feet. And it’s not always easy.
But if you’re the girl who cares too much? You need a break, too.
You deserve to put your armor down sometimes, take a breath and fall into the arms of someone you care about. You deserve to let go, to stop bottling up your emotions and cry if you need to, sob if you need to, sit still if you need to.
You don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time. You don’t have to think you’ve failed the people around you just because you’re taking some time for yourself. You don’t have to see yourself as weak because you are the one seeking help for a change, because you need someone to carry you and you can’t bear the weight of anything else right now.
You are allowed to take a moment to regain your strength. You have permission to finally fall into bed at night and let everyone else’s burdens slip off your shoulders.
You are not any less because you are taking care of yourself right now.
When you’re the girl who cares too much, you always put others first. You listen. You are patient. You quiet yourself and your desires and push your feelings aside to make room for others. You give so much of yourself, both emotionally and physically. You spend your time agonizing over others’ pain.
And you get exhausted sometimes by the sheer weight of it all.
It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to pause. It’s okay to give yourself the permission to pull away for a bit. The way you care is an integral part of your personality, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to ache, to grieve, to feel lost, to need someone to care just as much about you.
Sometimes you must take a break, let the world fall away and figure out how to spin without you, because as much as you fear it won’t, it will.
Give yourself space, attention, and love.
Give yourself time and patience and healing.
And when you feel like yourself again, return to your role, the role you love and embody and will always be tied to. Now you have the strength to begin again, and you will, refreshed and renewed. Because the world needs you.