Summer Walker has been making headlines as of late and it’s not her music or her on-again, off-again relationship with super producer London on Da Track. Instead, it’s about her struggle with being an awkward Black girl and introvert while rising as an R&B superstar.
The Over It singer, who has been vocal about her battles with social anxiety in the past, was recently criticized by a supporter after a meet and greet didn’t go as well as they hoped. The fan claimed Summer Walker came off as “cold,” didn’t offer autographs, wasn’t talking much and didn’t allow fans to get too close to her for pictures. The fan wrote on Instagram, “Such an anticlimactic and disappointing experience meeting Summer Walker yesterday. Not only did she move the meet and greet last minute to after the show, the meet and greet itself was literally 5 seconds. We were informed to have our phones out, ready with flash, and not to sit too close or touch her. She barely spoke to anyone, every couple of people she’d say ‘Hi.’ It was a big hurt piece for me because I really idolised [sic] her and her work. I knew she was an introvert and kind of closed off but there was no effort in this at all, whatsoever.”
The message caught the attention of many including the 23-year-old singer, who considers herself to be a non-sociable person even in the midst of her growing popularity as an artist. She took to her own Instagram to respond to the criticism, revealing that while she doesn’t mean to offend any of her fans, she is quite the empath and dealing with a ton of people and their energies everyday can be pretty overwhelming for her.
She wrote, “I just want to say to all the fans who purchase meet & greets I really APPRECIATE y’all taking the extra time to meet me and share your stories. I tell everyone individually ‘thank you’, I spread love, we laugh & I give genuine compliments,” she wrote. “now for those who’re upset b/c I don’t give hugs idk what to tell you…I’m an empath, and that transference of energy from that many people each day would literally KILL me.. y’all may not understand what I’m talking about but for example… there’s a lot of people out here faking the funk with a smile on their face like they got it together but inside your [sic] actually suffering from some sort of traumatic experience, a loss, depressed, fearful, envious or whatever the case may be BUT I CAN FEEL IT. So I ask you please respect my space in those moments.”
And recently, the Atlanta artist took it one step further by pulling the plug on her “First and Last Tour” due to her extreme empath personality and social anxiety. Making another announcement on her Instagram page, she told fans, “Hey y’all as you know, I have been very open about my struggle with social anxiety. I want to continue to be healthy and to make music for y’all, so I have decided to cut down some of the dates on the tour. I’m grateful for every single one of you. I hope that you understand.”
While some of Summer’s social followers applauded her for her honestly, others weren’t as satisfied with her emotional explanation alluding to this all being a bit dramatic. However, whether over dramatized or not, as a slightly empathic person myself, I can definitely relate to how she feels. Dealing with multiple energies on a daily basis can be draining to anybody, but especially to an empath who values their personal space and cherishes their alone time to recoup, recharge and sometimes just be.
Now let’s be clear, being an empath is slightly different from simply feeling empathy. Sure, empaths are certainly emotional and probably cry more than the average person during any given episode of “This Is Us”, but it doesn’t mean that they’re just one big ball of feelings. While feeling empathy is an innate emotion that allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes so we can relate to what they’re going through, being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s emotions, whether happiness or sadness, in your own body. People who are empaths experience a heightened sense of compassion and according to Dr. Judith Orloff, at times have difficulty determining if their feelings are theirs or someone else’s. If empaths are surrounded by positive emotions such as peace, happiness and love, they can absorb these feelings and feel amazing. On the other hand, if they’re surrounded by negative emotions, they can absorb these feelings too and feel exhausted once the encounter is done.
Being an empath isn’t all just stress and worry. In fact, having this type of personality actually comes with amazing traits. As Dr. Judith Orloff explained, due to their heightened sense of sensitivity and the ability to really feel, empaths are actually quite compassionate, creative, have great intuition and often form deep connections with others. They are also naturally giving, spiritually attuned, nurturing, have great hearts and are great listeners. With all of these personality traits rolled into one, it’s no wonder Summer Walker has the ability to really tap into her creative process and produce such great music… she’s an empath!
Although fans might be disappointed with Summer’s decision to cancel a few tour dates and take a small break from fans, I have to respect her for taking care of herself and putting her mental health first. Instead of continuing to allow herself to unravel, she recognizes her need to recharge and understands that in order for her to keep making great art, she has to be in a positive mental space… and there’s no shame in that.