Empathetic Stress; Burt’s Bees Lip Oil

Two nights ago I dreamed I was loading the dishwasher. Last night it was stress dreams: we were late to something! I was trying to pack but couldn’t figure out what to include! there was a truck half full of our possessions and half full of stuff for Goodwill, and I needed to separate them before it left for Goodwill!

Add to the list of things I didn’t realize before having children: I didn’t realize I’d be tapping into so much empathetic stress. Edward is a counselor-in-training at a camp this week, and today is his first day, and I was in full fret mode about it even though it is really no big deal: he will basically be assisting high school students as they assist elementary school students. Rob and William both got summer jobs at a fast food place, and I am barely stopping myself from trying to marionette them through it, telling them everything I can think of about what might go wrong and how they should deal with it.

They’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! This is GOOD for them! The worst that can happen is nothing too bad! But I feel as if I’M the one starting a new job, but so much worse: if it were me, I would have control over the situation and know what was happening. It’s much more like the feeling of sending them off to school for the first time and then sitting at home wondering if they’re scared or confused or upset. I’m picturing William in particular, learning to mop up the full soda he just dropped behind the cash register—and I’m picturing him at about age 6, fuzzy headed and trying not to be scared of the school bus, instead of as a perfectly normal 16-year-old with a perfectly normal first job making perfectly normal new-employee mistakes. The manager will be FULLY FAMILIAR with high school kids, and FULLY FAMILIAR with this being their first job. I WANTED THEM TO GET THESE JOBS, AND EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Oh! I have a lip oil report. Remember I found that Burt’s Bees color chart and it created in me the need to find out what lip oil WAS, preferably via acquiring some. And I did acquire some, and I have used it, and I am ready to say: meh, I wouldn’t, if I were you.

(image from Amazon.com)

To begin with, it was NINE dollars. NINE. The only reason I spent that much was that I misunderstood and thought it was $4.99 like the lip balm. But no. Nine dollars. I justified it by figuring that that’s part of what the blog ad income is for: trying things and reporting on them.

Then, I got it home and couldn’t figure out how to use it. I took the cap off and there was a little dry white brush at the end of a tube. There was a twisty thing on the bottom of the tube, so I twisted it and nothing happened. I dug the wrapper out of the trash, but there were no instructions on it. I had to search online, where I found instructions that didn’t work: the Burt’s Bees site said to twist the thing on the bottom of the tube 10-15 times, then apply; but I twisted dozens of times and there was still nothing to apply. I began to conclude it was empty or defective.

I searched the review section on Burt’s Bees and on Amazon, and found tons of people saying they couldn’t figure out how to use it and maybe it was empty or defective, and tons of other people saying that the first time you use it you have to hold it upside down and twist it for a LONNNNNNG TIME. So I did that, for longer than even what I would consider a long time, and then suddenly a bright colored drop appeared in the brush. It seemed precarious, like it would fall off.

I painted the drop onto my lips. I could see shine, but very very little color—less than the tinted lip balm. It’s basically lip gloss; some lip glosses feel kind of icky to me, but this feels nice. It feels, as you’d expect, like oil—a nice thin layer of moisturizing oil. But not enough color to be worth it, and way too much fuss. I can use a tinted lip balm anywhere, but I’d feel ridiculous painting on the lip oil in front of anyone else. I’ll use it in the morning when I’m getting ready, and I won’t replace the tube when it runs out.

10 thoughts on “Empathetic Stress; Burt’s Bees Lip Oil

  1. Tessie

    I thought my fast food job was a good fit for a high school student. It’s also a really great way to develop empathy for service people, right when you yourself are transitioning into a consumer. Our manager always preferred students; they actually took the job a little more seriously. Also, I remember my coworkers and I writing down everything we did in a hour, and marveling at what raging bullshit minimum wage was ($4.25 at that time). Another formative experience.

    Good luck guys!

  2. Alison

    Tessie, those are amazing points. Especially the part about little developing consumers getting a feel for retail and respect. And the problem with minimum wage. Really, just all of it.

    And empathetic stress is the worst. I feel it most for my husband and my sister (no kids yet). And there is nothing to do about it but breathe and pick apart some cognitive distortions. I can’t actually DO anything directly related to the stress, so I have to MANAGE it in other ways, that’s hard.

  3. Shawna

    Thank you for the review of the lip oil! I really wanted to try it but it was only available at Walmart in my area and I hate going there so I put it off. But now I don’t have to bother. THANK YOU!

  4. Cherie

    I am a little behind on my reader and I was just about to comment on the last post that you SHOULD NOT buy the lip oil when I saw this post. Yeah, don’t buy the lip oil. I went through a whole process with this lip oil. I hated it for the first few days because it’s a lip gloss and I hate lip gloss (so sticky!). Then I grew to like it because I discovered the slight color lasted longer than the tinted lip balm color and it really was quite flattering. So I began to think I’d been too harsh with the lip oil. And just when I began to think “Okay, this is worth the high price, stickiness, and excessive packaging” it…ran out. It lasted me maybe a few weeks of steady (but not constant) use. I’m not exaggerating when I say tinted balms last me years. Years! And this lasted mere weeks. For nine dollars!

    So, no. Don’t buy the lip oil. Not worth it. You will end up emotionally exhausted and writing lip oil manifestos on blogs.

    1. Gigi

      “You will end up emotionally exhausted and writing lip oil manifestos on blogs.” This line had me rolling on the floor!

  5. Suzanne

    Empathetic stress is so hard! The lack of control, as you point out, makes it even worse! Ack!

    Thank you for trying out the lip oil. It sounds like a lot of work for very little reward.

  6. Marcy Greenway

    Read the blog for a long time. My son just graduated high school and started first real job. I know some of the people he is working for so have to stop myself from asking questions he should be asking,etc.

  7. Katie

    Wow, I really needed this post to just learn the term for all of my crazy nerves–empathetic stress! My kids are still younger (6,4, and 1), but the older two are definitely venturing out more–full day school, summer day camp, etc. It feels completely insane that I am supposed to (and do) drop them off somewhere where they don’t know anyone and just expect them to “have fun” (which I tell them as I walk away with my heart in my stomach). My mind becomes a minefield of imagining every terrible scenario while they’re gone. Then of course, they’re all smiles and positivity when I pick them up. I’ve never had to do so much shoving down of my own feelings and faking a happy face than when I drop a kid off somewhere. I also never imagined that I would be like this. I’m actually fairly adventurous, but apparently that only applies to myself, and I’d much prefer to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and keep them home forever. :) So thank you, as always, for the wonderful and relatable writing.

  8. dayman

    I remember my first food service job, my parents came to visit and were so proud. Shortly after they arrived, a customer started screaming at me because she didn’t want all the toppings on the salad she ordered but hadn’t told me she didn’t want them. I mean, SCREAMED. I was fourteen years old and she should’ve been ashamed of herself and I remember the worst part was that I worried my parents saw me screw up.

    I really do have a point here though, rather than rehashing something that happened almost thirty years ago, and that is: it made me a much better customer and person. These are GREAT jobs for kids that age. It is ALSO a chance to make new friends which can be nice in the summer.

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