I read a post in which someone said she struggled at times for being “a lot,” is coming to terms with it, and encourages others to not diminish themselves or apologize for being a lot. I know her well enough to know the background, but I know others might read it and take the encouragement in ways that might not be healthy.
Being “a lot” can mean different things; sometimes those things actually oppose each other. The claim of being a lot isn’t about approving a specific personality type or approach. Being a lot isn’t the issue. We can’t encourage others to be okay with their a lot because we don’t know their a lot much of the time. We don’t know how we’re encouraging them. And we need to be aware enough of our own a lot to accept even our best qualities can become distorted into unhealthy expressions.
For example, I tend to be empathetic, considering what other people might be going through and how I might be able to encourage them. It can help relationships, but it could also become unhealthy if I take on excessive burdens or believe I can fix people. But if I can be enough of an encouragement to even temporarily lighten a load for someone through a rough season, I’ll often do it. Even when my empathy is healthy, it can be a lot. Would it be easier if I didn’t notice other people, if I didn’t care, if I wasn’t invested enough to respond in some sort of helpful way? No. It wouldn’t be easier. I don’t want to not notice. I don’t want to not help. That’s what makes my life so rich at times. It’s a lot, but I wouldn’t change it. But I have to attend to it.
People sometimes say a quality is a lot because they don’t understand it, haven’t lived it, or have lived it in an unhealthy way. I get it. Probably just about every trait will become unhealthy in some way if there isn’t intentional effort in a healthy direction. Just like my friend’s post who was talking about being a lot in terms of being opinionated and loud and expressive. All those things can be healthy. They can also be used to rationalize behavior that is hurtful. Our choice.
What is “a lot” in your life right now or in the lives of others around you? Is your choice in response to be healthy or to rationalize what is not?