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 conjured that love-hate feeling the most was named Colin Robinson. He’s an energy vampire. 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 sucks the life out of them with his stories. Part of what makes him so funny is that we’ve all encountered energy vampires in our lives.
I remember working with an energy vampire. At first, I had tried countering his negativity with optimism, hoping that he’d change his tune. That never worked, so then I tried to avoid him completely. If I was cornered, I’d tell him I was late for a meeting, had to make a phone call, really had to pee, or any other excuse just to get out of the conversation. In moments of desperation (or maniacal genius) I’d divert his attention to someone else in the room, then make a mad dash for the door. More often than not, things turned out just like the scenes in the show – me slumped, face down on my desk and him continuing to ramble despite the fact that I showed no signs of life.
I’ll admit, I’ve also been the energy vampire, especially during periods of my life when I was unhappy or stressed to the max. In low points of my life, I was hyper focused on everything that was wrong, and it seemed impossible to talk about anything else. I like to think that I looked for clues that I was sucking the life out of the room and changed my focus, but I’m certain there were times when I left people feeling drained.
I remember learning in high school physics class that energy cannot be created or destroyed–the law of conservation of energy. I’m pretty sure that the principle is only based on the energy of physical objects (apologies to Mr. Moore, my high school physics teacher, 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 up that energy and carry it with them. They may even pass on the same negative energy, no longer having the will to fight it. Or they may think of that encounter minutes, days, even years later and succumb to the same sense of depletion.
Knowing how the energy vampires in my life have left me feeling, I now try to make it a point to care for my energy. I do things like spending time with people who make me laugh, letting go of things that are outside of my control, and giving myself space when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also make a conscious effort to be more positive and not allow my negativity to affect others.
While I might be amused watching Colin Robinson feed on people he’s drained of energy, I choose to be someone that gives off energy that fuels people. Who are you choosing to be?