I'm An Empath + I Feel EVERYTHING. Here's What It's Really Like
Have you ever felt like it’s hard to breathe? Like everyone around you is looking at you, criticizing every detail of who you are? Or that you’re physically exhausted beyond belief after a day spent around a bunch of people at work or at a lively event? Perhaps there’s one person in particular who exhausts you so much it’s like they’re vacuuming out all your energy, leaving you totally depleted after every interaction. How about all of the above?
This was my daily experience for most of my life. As early as elementary school I remember having trouble walking to school because I felt so sensitive to what everyone around me was thinking. Their judgments, their impressions and critiques—it was like I could feel all of it without anyone even saying anything. Strangers I didn’t even know were picking me apart from across every street in San Francisco.
I was someone who had the capacity to feel what other people are feeling.
Years later my experience continued to manifest as heaviness, sadness, stress, and anxiety marked by a general feeling of discomfort always in the background. I felt like I was carrying a literal weight on my shoulders—a physical heaviness that was hard to define but felt at all times. And none of it made any sense at all.
I was 25 and my life was fantastic. I had just gotten a dream job at a boutique creative agency smack in the heart of DUMBO, Brooklyn. I enjoyed fantastic support from friends, family and community, and I lived in a beautiful apartment in a great Brooklyn neighborhood. From the outside, it just couldn’t get any better.
But the discomfort wouldn’t dissipate no matter how much I tried to reason it away. It was like I was feeling someone else’s feelings. Was I going crazy? I felt constantly burdened—at home, at the office, on the train, even at the beach on a perfectly clear day. What was wrong?
I learned a term that I had never heard before: empath. In that moment, I knew that my life would change forever.
I knew I needed help, but I wasn’t sure where to start. So I did what I knew how to do: share what I was feeling with as many friends as possible and see if anyone could point me in the right direction. Eventually two friends suggested I try Reiki energy healing, saying it sounded to them like I might be struggling with an energetic block—or multiple ones.
I was referred to a healer in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section who would go on to help me in more ways than one, starting with my first Reiki session. Upon first meeting Rebecca Conran, her calm demeanor took me aback. She embodied the sense of peace and serenity that I had always craved. I sensed that I was in the right place.
We talked about what I was experiencing and, more important, the heaviness I had been feeling for quite some time. She got it all right. And then she mentioned a term that I had never heard before, but would catalyze my healing and transformation and help me carve out an entirely new future: empath.
An empath, as I’ve learned, is someone who has the capacity to feel what other people are feeling—sometimes to such an extent that it actually can be hard to discern other people’s emotions from their own. Empaths can also absorb emotions and energy from others, albeit subconsciously. So, being an empath can sometimes feel like walking around with an open heart that’s like a sponge, absorbing everyone else’s old emotional and energetic baggage—in a way, healing everyone else without even having the intention to do so.
I had been feeling this way my entire life. Like I was a sponge. I was regularly exhausted by social situations in which I felt like people were draining my energy. Later, I learned that it wasn’t really their fault. For my whole life up to that point, I had been unconsciously walking around like an open sponge (with such an open heart, wanting so badly to connect with everyone) that I was open to absorbing everyone else’s emotions—the good, the bad, and the confusing.
Finally, I found some relief. After my Reiki healing session, I felt a lightness and clarity I had never experienced. The weight I had been carrying was lifted off of my shoulders and out of my body. Whatever blockages I had been trapped by, which were numerous and long-standing, were cleared, and my overall energy felt much more balanced. I felt like myself again. What a gift!
In that moment, I knew that my life would change forever. I also knew I had some serious studying to do—not to mention some major practice in learning how to protect myself and become empowered in my newly named ability. It was like my hidden superpower had finally been revealed to me—something I had always misinterpreted as a burden because I wasn’t aware of how to wield it confidently and intentionally. With that small seed of knowledge, so many doors started to open.
Someone directed me to the The Aquarian Empath by Irma Kaye Sawyer, an incredible thought leader, healer, teacher and creator of Cosmic Weather. Next on my reading list was Your 30-Day Empath Empowerment Program by Rose Rosetree. As soon as I read these books, I knew I was not alone. In fact, I learned there were actually many other people around the world who share this experience. This pivotal insight offered me connection, hope, and possibility. I was about to embark on a fresh start—a wide-open path full of new beginnings.
Once we learn to take care of ourselves, we have so many wonderful gifts to offer the world—especially when it comes to supporting people in healing and transformation.
I started learning how to take care of myself—how to protect my energy and discern my own feelings from those of others. My world opened up. With proper support, I made space for new opportunities, new relationships, new creative pursuits and so much more. Most of all, I connected to my higher guidance system that now inspires everything I do and all I stand for.
Today I am so blessed to support people in beautiful, meaningful ways—all of which are empowered by my empathic abilities. I help people connect to their own internal guidance, to fall in love with themselves, to take amazing care of themselves, and to show up for their big, magical visions.
More and more, life reveals what a gift empathy truly is. Because we feel what others are feeling, we communicate in a way that others can sincerely relate to. Connecting on this deeper level opens up a powerful, healing space that allows for transformation, often at an accelerated pace.
Once we learn to take care of ourselves, we have so many wonderful gifts to offer the world—especially when it comes to supporting people in healing and transformation. The biggest gift of all by far is learning to trust our intuition more than anything else: knowing in our heart of all hearts that it always knows the way.
Sydney Campos is a Los Angeles-based visionary coach, energy healer, and intuitive strategist who supports clients with comprehensive holistic wellness and vision building. She studied to become a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and also holds bachelor's degrees in political science and latin american studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Campos is passionate about making the world a better place, which she knows starts with individuals thriving from the inside out.