We Are Not As Invisible As We Believe Ourselves To Be
The title of this post comes from a tweet I wrote the other day. Which came from a post I wrote on the day that Oblivious (by Fernanda Suarez) pulled me out of oblivion on tumblr and rocked my world with a huge dose of the awesome unexpected.
Today when I visited Twitter I found that the tweet had been made Tweet of the Day by a very lovely Twitterer. I did a cartoon double-take with sound effects, then I felt so overwhelmed by the gesture, so tenderly touched and loved, that I wanted to hide and savour it.
I never know how to behave when people give me a compliment, do I hit them and tell them to get a grip of themselves or do I hug them and shower them with kisses.
I often read tweets and wonder what is the story behind them. What inspired the words. Sometimes I can guess, because it speaks to me about my own life, and we often share similar experiences, though how they affect us is very much an individual thing.
The story behind my tweet is one I know many people share. The feeling that we are somehow invisible, that others don’t see us, and when they do, they often fail to see who we really are, and only see what they want to see. Which is very confusing. Frustrating. We want and need to be noticed, but for who we are. Being noticed for who we are not, makes us very sad, but we often accept it because it is better than not being noticed at all. Occasionally who other people think we are seems so much better than who we think we are. We want to be that person, but we are not sure how, if it is possible, and if it is the right thing to do.
Life is full of paradoxes. It is also full of people scrambling and shouting to be seen, to stand out in a sea of people. Being noticed is very important to our sense of identity, and of belonging, not just in a tribe, but on Earth. It confirms we are alive, and that we are on the right planet. In fact it is so vital to us that we will settle for negative attention if we can’t get the positive kind, because anything is better than no attention at all.
Where does the need to be noticed come from. I suppose it is an intrinsic part of survival. A baby needs to be nourished to survive, and so it seeks attention. How we receive that initial attention will shape how we seek it later in life. It will also shape how we see ourselves. If we are welcomed and loved, given all that we need, then we feel safe, wanted, an important member of the human race. If we are unwelcome, unloved, given the minimum needed to keep us alive, then we feel vulnerable, powerless, and the human race becomes our enemy. Most of us get a bit of both, an unbalanced mess of attention and rejection. And we pass that on, just like it was passed on to us.
Sometimes people see us as we truly are, but we don’t recognise the person they see because we do not perceive ourselves that way. We think we are one thing, when in actual fact we are so much more. Much of how we see ourselves comes from within. The world within us is a very mysterious place, deep, and hard to fathom. Which is partly why we rely so much on other people to help us to know who we are. As we help them to know who they are.
I’ve spent a great deal of my life in the shadows. Invisible to all but myself. For a long time I hated it, but then I grew to love it. It has its advantages. Especially as I seem driven to live life my own way, by my own rules, and I am often swimming in the opposite direction to everyone else. I’ve tried doing it the other way, swimming with the current rather than against it, but I always fail in the end, I get exhausted by the effort and stop trying to fit in. Going unnoticed is a very desirable thing when you know that attention usually ends up with having a very bright light shone in your eyes whilst people punch you with aggressive questions demanding that you justify your life, your right to have an existence at all.
I’ve always seen attention as a negative. These days though the universe is showing me how positive it can be, and I’m completely freaked out by the experience. In a good way. But I’m struggling a bit. Years of dealing with the harsh side of life and people has left me completely unprepared and out of my depth when dealing with the beautiful side of life and people. I absolutely love it!
Thank you all for being a part of one of the best years of my life, and of one of the most pleasant life lessons I have ever had to learn. How to enjoy being noticed. It is truly wonderfully weird!
How do you see yourself, and is it what others see too?