How you can feel more invincible and less invisible
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles Swindoll
Have you ever felt invisible?
I believe our world and the way we interact has become very disconnected; it has somewhat lost its sense of humanness. Even as a positive and social person, I feel invisible at times, and know there must be others who feel this way too. For me, being invisible means feeling isolated, not appreciated, not noticed, or not cared for.
I feel invisible when I don’t feel heard. Sometimes people can be there physically, but they are not fully present with me, attentively listening to the facts, feelings, and intentions behind my words. It feels like they aren’t listening, their attention is elsewhere, and this leaves me feeling like I’m wasting my time and energy to speak. This is most hurtful when it is someone close to me, even if that wasn’t their intention.
I feel invisible while using social media sometimes, where I have lots of “friends” and “followers”, but don’t feel a deep connection with many of them. I check my email hoping someone might remember to check in on me, I check my phone regularly for missed text messages hoping to have a conversation, and I post online hoping my expressions or statements are noticed by others.
I feel invisible when I am struggling with my health, and nobody understands why it isn’t getting better. Everyone keeps telling me what is wrong with my approach to solving the problem, to think positive, and providing a spectrum of solutions. But they aren’t hearing me, listening to the problem, and understanding that is out of my control. I feel invisible when I go to my doctors office by myself, and I’m sitting with a room full of patients who are also there themselves. We are treated as numbers, cued like orders in a restaurant, and served when the staff is ready. No one speaks to one another, despite knowing we’re all suffering in one way or another.
I feel invisible being back in Toronto, even though I grew up here. I feel like I’m starting over with building my life here, and am struggling to make a group of friends I can trust and rely on like the friends who became like my family while I was in Vancouver. I also feel like I’ve grown and changed while away, and can’t relate to some of the people I used to know in Toronto the same way. I feel lonely at times, wonder why the pace of life in this city is so hectic, and often find myself lost in the crowd.
I feel invisible every day during my daily commute where people stare awkwardly into space to avoid making eye contact for fear of coming across as intrusive or creepy. We commute in our cars alone, don’t carpool, don’t have an opportunity to connect with others in neighbouring cars, and so we fight with each other to inch ahead in morning traffic.
I feel invisible sometimes at work, being given a desk, and told what to do and when, knowing that my values are not aligned with the work. I feel invisible when I accept being stuck at a cubicle all day, and don’t honour my true potential and talents.
I feel invisible when I’m invited to a social gathering with people who are not my type, but I “have to” go. I don’t see eye to eye with them, and they treat my choices to live my life in line with my values as “different” or “not successful”. By being single, almost 30 years old, and not having the “list” of things I need to have accomplished by now in my life checked off (marriage, kids, house, etc.), I feel inferior sometimes, even though I know I shouldn’t.
I have felt invisible on many occasions, and continue to do so at times. But then, I realize that I have a choice in every moment of my life on how to respond to situations. This realization comes when I acknowledge when I’m feeling invisible, and why, and then see if there is something I can do something about it.
When I don’t feel heard, I can ask for someone’s full attention by explaining what they can do to make me feel heard and communicating my needs.
When using social media, I can avoid certain platforms that leave me feeling disconnected, and seek out opportunities that allow me to engage with others in real time; such as the recent Twitter chat I joined called the Power of Connection (#PoCChat) with Bobby Umar. I will also be starting a new video show every Thursday at 11am EST called “Reconnectfully Yours” to include on this blog, where I will interview inspiring guests and discuss ways we can reconnect to what matters.
When I am going through a challenging situation, I can choose to embrace my pain, express the emotions I’m experiencing, and accept other people’s opinions of what I should do as just that; their opinions. I can make decisions I feel comfortable with, trust the process, and only do what is in my control to ameliorate the situation.
To create the world around me the way I want it to be, I can build a sense of community by speaking with others, share our vulnerable stories, and connect on a human level. I can go against the norm and speak to people in transit and doctor’s offices, smile at strangers, let new people into my life, and share a little bit of my soul with others; perhaps though a joke, a story, lending an ear, or being a friend.
I can also make choices in line with my happiness and health, quit jobs and personal relationships I don’t need, and live in line with a vision of life I want for myself. I can choose to surround with myself with people who are trail-blazing passionate lives, share my values, and inspire me and help me grow on a continual basis.
All these choices I can make help me feel less invisible, honour myself, and build a life I am happy about leading. Making these choices gives me courage and strength to endure whatever comes, and reminds me to make choices in line with my values.
There will be bad people I come across, horrible situations I will go through, challenges I will face, and this is often out of my control. Knowing this, I can better embrace the experience fully and openly, accept it, and find a way to grow and learn from it. The choice to accept, the choice to learn, the choice to grow are all within my capacity to make.
There are invisible people among all of us, and I too feel like one sometimes. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly note, sharing a blog post like this one, a phone call, an invitation to bring them into a group, or a friendly gesture for them to feel a bit less invisible. Being human means living compassionately with our fellow beings, and I hope this post in someway helps you and those around you feel a bit less invisible, and more invincible and empowered to embrace everything you encounter in life.