Amanda - Tampa, Florida
Entered on March 23, 2008

For the longest time I had always believed that there was no such thing as caring too much. The more we care about others and ourselves, the better a place the world would be, right? But recently, this caring has begun to take a toll on me.

Before this year I never really realized how sheltered I was –– always believing that everyone has some good in them, and continually giving others the benefit of the doubt. I had always truly thought this and had always had a mental image of how people were, and of how I wanted them to be.

These images were pure, innocent. I found the best in people and ignored their faults, leaving me with an image of a person who was good and respectable, a person who would succeed in life and had no reason to hide anything. But over this past year or so, reality collided, distorting many of these images to a place I just can’t deal with.

Throughout Elementary and Middle School my teachers had always warned us about drugs and about being able to say “No.” They had assured us that we would be offered and tempted to take drugs. But I was lucky enough to never have this happen, and so I assumed that no one else had either. I have never been so wrong.

Over the past year I have begun to realize just how many people do drugs, how many people come to school high, how many people are having sex on a regular basis, and it scares me. These images are so different from those I had imagined for people, and it bothers me. A lot.

But even though I can never look at many of these people the same way again, I can’t help but care about them. I still want them to have that same image I had first envisioned. But they don’t, and I don’t know how to fix it. I think I have begun to care too much, because it hurts.

Everywhere around me now I see people that I so desperately want to help, but just can’t. I see the person who smokes weed every week, knowing it’s bad, but doesn’t care to stop. I see the person who used to be so independent, now just another teenage mother. I see the person whose father died last year, but who I still don’t know how to talk to. I see the person whose parent might still smoke pot. I see the person who sells drugs on the side for money. I see the person who was diagnosed with Leukemia just a few weeks ago. And I see the person who is drowning from their workload, failing classes, tempted to cheat. And it all sucks, because even though I care so much about them, I can’t do a thing to change any of it.

I have found that no matter how much I care, I can’t change who they are. I can’t change what happened. Instead I just get caught up in the stress and forget to care about myself. I feel like if I don’t care for them, then they won’t care for themselves either. But I need them to. I need them to care so that I can get through my own life, knowing that they will be okay. I need them to be okay, because I am afraid that I will only be able to care so much. And after I have exhausted all my caring, there won’t be any left. But I feel like it’s just too hard sometimes, like trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. I can’t keep fighting it, I’m not strong enough. If I care too much about everyone else, then I won’t be able to care for myself. And when that happens, who will care for me?