the life out of the room?!
My husband and I watched the first season of What We Do in the Shadows, a documentary style television show like The Office…but with vampires. It’s a ridiculous and hysterical show, with characters that I simultaneously love and hate. One character that brought on that love-hate feeling the most was an energy vampire named Colin Robinson. He looks like a normal human being, can go out in the daylight, and sucks the life out of people with his dull, rambling stories. Colin Robinson (the other vampires tend to use his full name) lurks around people’s cubicles, waiting to bore them with trivial facts and mundane details of his life. You can see people slowly going limp as he works his magic.
This character is hysterical because we all can relate to what it’s like to be around energy vampires, those people in our lives who drain all of our energy by their presence. These people often show no concern for how much of your time they take up. They bore you with the minutiae of their lives or worse, they do nothing but complain or gossip. (I know images of your own energy vampires are flashing in your mind, right now. You may even be looking for the nearest exit.)
While the show makes light of energy vampires, the reality is that being around people like this is exhausting. Listening to them numbs our brains. Coming up with excuses to get out of conversations with them drains our reserves of creativity. We may try to avoid them completely. In moments of desperation (or maniacal genius) we divert their attention to someone else in the room, then make a mad dash for the door.
I used to work closely with an energy vampire and there was no way to avoid him. I tried to counter his negativity with my own optimism in the hopes that he’d change his vampirous ways. Instead, things turned out just like the scenes in the show–me slumped, face down on my keyboard and him continuing to ramble on despite my showing no signs of life.
I’ll admit, I’ve also had moments of being the energy vampire, especially during periods of my life when I was unhappy or stressed to the max. We all need connection to fuel us. In low points of our lives, we may only have accounts of our trip to the grocery store or stories about other people as talking points. When we’re hyper focused on what is wrong around us, it can be impossible to talk about anything else. If it matters to us, we watch for cues that we’re sucking the life out of the room and change our focus.
I remember learning in high school physics class that energy can not be created or destroyed–the law of conservation of energy. I’m pretty sure that the principle is only based on the energy of objects at rest or in motion (apologies to all physicists and physics teachers out there if I muddled that up). In my mind, however, the same rule applies to the emotional energy that we put out in the world. When we put out negative energy through our griping, complaining and gossiping, people pick it up and carry that energy with them. They may pass along the same negative energy, no longer having the will to fight it. Or they may think of those conversations minutes, days, even years later and succumb to the same sense of depletion.
We can’t expect to be perfect. We’ll slip into negativity at times, and there will be moments when we do need to voice our frustrations. The key is paying attention to whether it’s our habit to put out negative energy and drain others in doing so. We get to choose what energy we put into the world. Personally, I’d like to be someone that gives off energy that fuels people. My magic-of-choice is showing gratitude, recognizing people for their admirable qualities, and sharing stories of hope.
Should you choose to continue your vampirous ways, that’s your choice. I just hope you’re prepared to see people pretending to take phone calls, throwing themselves into the nearest elevator, or just flat out turning and running away from you. Because, no one needs that energy.