I stepped off the escalator at the train station to see herds of ambulances and police officers moving in tandem. The rhythm of their steps haunted me. I heard the familiar symphony of sirens and chaos– a lullaby the city sang to me on many sleepless nights.

The commotion jolted and misplaced the homeless occupants from their usual resting areas. They scattered about in slow-motion, some clawing at the handles of their wheelchairs with the limbs they had left, others carrying bundles of stained bed comforters or ripped garbage bags. My stomach lurched.

I could feel their fear. I could feel their exhaustion and suffering. It throbbed in my temples. It pushed on my chest. It burned in my eyes. I squeezed them shut.

“Don’t cry again today.” “Don’t cry again today,” I repeated in my head over and over, after I had a borderline break down a few days prior from seeing a couple shivering under a blanket on the pavement in 30-degree weather.

“They’re ok,” I told myself.

They weren’t. And they aren’t. But we’re not supposed to care, right?

Well, no. Not for me. You see, I’m a feeler. Maybe, you are too.

I feel everything, good and bad, to the full extent. I can’t avoid it. I can’t pretend it isn’t there. I can’t hide from it. The human experience washes over me like a tidal wave. Every day.

I walked out of the doors of the station, drew closer to the scene and immediately a familiar darkness struct me with unrelenting force; Death.

Someone had just died there. I recognized the chilling feeling in my bones. Death stuck in the air, a thick fog I breathed in like cold shards of glass hollowing out the insides of my lungs.

I started to choke on it and walked as fast as I could past the ambulances to the other side of the street, where I saw police officers rinsing a puddle of blood off the sidewalk. The red river clung to the concrete and seeped into the drain pipe.

Fiery humanity that had once pumped a beating heart, once glided through arms that hugged and a face that smiled, now dripped away into nothingness.

When I got to my car I sat for a while and just let myself feel it. I let myself grieve for the suffering all around me. I prayed. I listened.

I let myself remember the pain this moment brought me back to. I willingly sunk into the memories. The ones that could sneak up on me at any moment, like black and white flashbacks from a movie.

I closed my eyes and I gave my heart the familiar permission it needed–to let it all in. Then I cried and calmed.

And finally, strangely, I felt honored. Gifted, even. Blessed beyond measure that because I’m a ‘feeler’ I don’t just exist in this confusing and sometimes terrifying world, I’m a part of it.

Feelers do not walk through life with our eyes closed. We understand. We can see both the light and the darkness, therefore we know the difference at the very core of our souls. We see it everywhere– in ourselves, in loved ones, even in perfect strangers.

Both the good and the evil do not evade feelers.

And while that can be a heavy burden to carry, with the evil— the heartbreak, loss, suffering and struggle– there is always the good, too.

Because days later I’d laugh until I couldn’t breathe with my sister. I’d produce more than a few tears watching movies with my family. I’d get down on my knees and get tackled by a dog in pure elation. I’d dance and sing my heart out next to my best friends on a stage in Philly. I’d recklessly sink into far too many cups of warm diner coffee with my pap. I’d have multiple sappy heart-to-hearts with people I missed dearly, decorated with big hugs and choked up professions of love.

Days later, I would sink into the happy part of being a feeler– The joyous, overwhelming and life-affirming experience that derives from an ability to immerse yourself in meaningful human emotion.

I experience everything. I fall deeply into the places I go, people I meet, music I hear, words I read and art I encounter. At any time a gorgeously constructed sentence or poem can strike me in the chest and take my breath away. A street artist can make me stop in my tracks, consumed in their talent. A view, building or piece of art can cling to my soul and touch me.

I spent a large portion of my life believing that my deep capacity for feeling (being a hardcore feeler) was my greatest weakness– the one thing about me that meant I couldn’t succeed in life.

I told myself over and over that if I didn’t change– if I didn’t harden and close myself up, I’d never be good enough.

I’d always be at a disadvantage to the non-feelers. I’d always be flawed. I’d always be unwanted, undesirable and unloved. There would always be something wrong with me.

And I, like many feelers, did try to numb and dull away who I am in an effort to be the way I thought I was supposed to be. Many times.

And I, like many feelers, discovered over and over that I wasn’t meant to change. That I didn’t have to change. I was created this way for a reason and a purpose, and giving myself the space to realize that brought so much healing, solace and meaning into my life.

Because I learned that being a feeler is not my greatest weakness, after all.

It’s my actually greatest strength. It’s the foundation of my character, the guiding light behind my communication, the glue for my relationships and the fuel to all of my passions and talents. It is, truly, the root of my greatest strengths.

And if you’re seeing yourself in these words, that’s fantastic.

Because feelers are the best.

Feelers are empathetic, compassion, intuitive and understanding. They’re the friend that always cares, always listens and always tries to understand your perspective.

They’re the lover that buries into the deepest corners of your heart and makes you feel like you always have a home in theirs. They do not treat a heart with recklnessness.

They are the communicators, the problem-solvers and the peacekeepers. They build bridges. They move mountains. They make progress. They give a voice to the voiceless.

They’re the creative minds that provide sustenance for this world. They’re the often tortured, restless souls that fill the hearts of millions with art, literature, music, poetry, film, theatre and more. They take whats unexplainable and they bring it to life with their magic.

They’re unique, resilient and brave. They love and live boundlessly, knowing both sadness and happiness will always paint over the canvas of their lives with brilliant symmetry.

Being this kind of human being isn’t weak or fragile, it’s courageous. Especially after you’ve been mistreated by the people who can’t feel like you do. Especially after you’ve been hurt, betrayed or abandoned. The choice to keep caring, to keep feeling, despite everything and everyone proving that you shouldn’t, is one you should be unbelievably proud of.

I know that I am.

Everything I treasure and cherish about myself comes from my ability to feel, the very characteristic I once let this life convince me was my fatal flaw.

So this one is for you, the feelers.

I wish you strength for the bad days, energy for the good days and enough peace and gratitude to always remind you how special you really are.

For being a feeler is a gift to you, and you are a gift to this world.

What's your reaction?