When Your Empathy Tank is Empty…

Title IX professionals, we give our all…literally, our ALL, to be on, tuned in, attentive and compassionate. It’s an important part of our job. Well, actually, it IS our job. We strategically plan next steps for safety, comfort, and access. We are thinking three steps ahead while simultaneously remaining in the moment with a person who experienced trauma or has been accused of causing trauma. We handle the panic, tears, anger, frustration, and fear of the person in front of us with grace and poise.  We remain calm and controlled when being yelled at. We support, provide, modify, and make things happen to accommodate the parties, their families, their advisors, etc. There is a whole lot of give…but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Regardless, it is exhausting. We don’t necessarily feel it in the moment, but later, oh later, it hits HARD. When we have a moment to breathe, we crash… at least I do. It is as though my empathy tank is empty. I cannot listen to one more thing. I cannot make one more decision. I absolutely cannot engage in small talk with an empty tank. I come across as short, direct, and to the point with those I love, care about, and respect. I need time to refuel. I am not mad, sad, angry, or annoyed. I just do not have one more ounce of empathy to give, but there is still a job to be done. I become focused on the tasks at hand and push through, but gosh this work is hard!  I am tired. I know you are too.

Let’s do a better job of refueling the tank. Take breaks. Respond to emergencies immediately but take the urgency out of everything else. Let’s get it right, not rushed. Let’s give grace and be slow to anger or to take offense.  Let’s support each other and be mindful that when we run on E for long enough, we run out. There is nothing left. We don’t want to lose our amazing Title IX professionals, so let’s take care of ourselves and each other!  

Betsy Smith
Betsy Smith, Director of Title IX Services