This was a nebulous concept to me a while ago - understanding the energy you give to people and the energy you receive back. Isn't it the same as effort? No, it's not. Measuring effort would be measuring tit-for-tat; I paid for a $1 coke so I expect a repayment. Feeling energy is knowing when you keep giving, giving, giving, and not receiving anything back. I went through ups and downs with this the past year, especially while spanning what felt like two different lives, in two different timezones.
I had my new life, in France, with 600 classmates. I had my old life in North America, with a close family and friend group from Uni and work. Trying to put energy into both of these lives was HARD. Trying to figure out 4 different timezones between Europe and North America was HARD. Trying to keep up with lives and make a mental note to check-in when I had 1,000 things going on between new country, new school, new career-in-process and weekly PCR tests was HARD. The HARDs are capitalized, because until you've done this, you don't actually understand how freaking HARD this is. Sometimes you feel like you're in a strange chasm, not giving enough energy to either life and not receiving back enough energy from either life. Some people from each life make this easier - the people who also put in the energy to make a mental to check-in randomly, send a funny GIF or TikTok (thanks Taylor P for being my cool Gen Z friend to do this), and make sure you feel like someone is thinking of you as much as you're thinking of them. On the other hand, some people make this much more difficult. People that you make sure to check-in with, message on special occasions, and send a note when you're sick that simply do not do this in return. Granted, these past two years have been tough on everyone. You lose track of time between endless Zoom calls, days all feel the same between COVID news cycles, and it's hard to feel yourself. But you know, in your gut, when the energy is not reciprocated. When the people you make sure feel special on their birthdays make sure you do, too; when the people you check on when they are sick also make sure you are staying healthy when you contract COVID (prior to a vaccine development - fully vaccinated now); when the people you give the last of your energy boost when they need it most do the same for you in times of need. And that, my friends, is energy. That is the gut feeling of knowing the energy you put into someone out of genuine kindness is also being provided to you. This is not tit-for-tat measurement, because no one's energy is the same, and it is not a repayment that you could possibly measure.
For example, have you ever had someone take so much energy from you, and then say you are the one who needs to put more in? Girl, I've been putting so much energy into this, I could've lit up Manhattan. All you need to is flip the switch. You can't force people to flip that switch - some people will be so adamant that what you did or said is not enough, that they will never see it. They will never see that they did not bother to turn on the light, did not try to install a new lamp, did not pay the electricity bill. They are people who make your life dark and drain you. You don't need these people who suck up all the energy like the biggest oil companies. You deserve people who light a candle and add to your light - not people who can't find the matches right next to them. Understanding this and taking stock of each others' energy is not playing tit-for-tat - it is making sure you are not drained and someone is making sure you get the light you deserve, too.
Of course, there are times in life when you cannot muster putting forth energy. You are going to go through a tough time with a job, relationship, or grief. It's in these times that you lean on people who love you enough to keep the lights on for you for a time until you can again. (shoutout to Graeme and Cv for always being there to give the boost of energy needed). These are people you keep close and hold onto dearly. These are your people, and then you do the same for them. This is the friendship that lights up your life.