Invisibility

I have not been able to get this idea of invisibility out of my head since I mentioned it in yesterday’s post, so there is clearly something more here for me to explore about this idea. It’s not a new idea. I’ve been struggling for some time with this feeling. I alternate between trying to ignore it and doing things to try to make new connections with people so that I feel less invisible. Neither approach is working, so it’s time to develop a new approach.

To set the stage for this, I have first taken a good hard look at the factors that are creating this feeling of invisibility in my life. There are a number of them—some under my control, some not.

I will acknowledge up front that some of this is just due to my way of being in the world. I am an extreme introvert. I love my solitude, I am difficult to get to know (not intentionally—it’s just a typical INFJ trait), I don’t care for most social activities because I really prefer deep one-on-one discussions as about my only form of socializing (and these opportunities are limited), I have trouble joining and staying involved in groups because they so often involve a lot of small-talk-type socializing that I don’t do well, and I’ve been going through so much change that all of these tendencies have been even more exaggerated than usual. I just don’t have the energy to put into social activities while also coping with all this transformation; it’s all going toward inner growth.

The downside of this much solitude, however, is that I have few friends. And the few friends I do have tend to be extremely busy people who don’t have much time. Even conversations (by phone, IM, email, or other virtual means) are often frequently interrupted or carried out when the other person is experiencing a lot of distraction from their other commitments. I understand this, and I am grateful for the time that these friends do create to connect with me, but I also know that I almost never have their full attention. For someone who tends to relate to others preferentially in a soul-deep kind of way, this is hard for me. (But I do recognize that this is due to my limitations and ways of interacting, not anyone else’s.)

I also face challenges in my current work situation in that it is only my boss and I in our office, and she is away the vast majority of the time. Since I also live alone, this means that I can go days at a time without having a face-to-face interaction with anyone. While I don’t mind the solitude and the freedom from small talk, it does make me feel invisible when I have gotten my hair cut, have a new outfit, dressed up especially nice, or even have some significant wound from yard care (or cat care), and there is absolutely no one to notice or comment on it. It’s like being a ghost in my own life some days. This particular issue will likely improve with my upcoming change in my work situation since I’ll be part of a larger organization where there are at least more people in the building that I might run into in the halls now and again.

Another factor that plays into this is my online life. I do have a few friends that faithfully “like” my various updates and postings on my personal Facebook page and my business page, and I am immensely grateful to these few. However, I generally don’t get much interaction there. Most of my friends that really enjoy Facebook interaction will instead post my links or pictures to their own wall in order to carry on conversations there without interacting at all with me. (And I will note that I do understand why they do this. I am not a very witty person, so the normal Facebook banter is a bit beyond my ability to effectively engage in.) I have a few other online forums that I occasionally post in, but none of the ones that I belong to seem to have a great deal of traffic, so there’s generally not much to interact with.

The biggest factor that drives this invisibility thing online, though, is related to the parts of myself that I put out there that get no response. I tend to strip myself naked in an emotional sense here on the blog on a regular basis, and there are several of you who do comment and like posts, and I am profoundly and immensely grateful for that. Thank you to each of you for helping me feel seen! But I still have very few readers (my close friends don’t even read it most of the time). While I totally understand that my posts tend to be largely self-analysis and are therefore not going to interest very many people, it can still be a struggle sometimes. (I’m sure all of you who blog can relate to this!)

I have the same problem on my Etsy store, where I just can’t seem to get any traction even with greatly reduced prices and paid advertising. And my business website, which I haven’t done anything with in quite some time, never even got one single follower on that blog. Even when I frequently posted new entries on Facebook and linked to it on my Facebook page, I got almost no traffic.

I know I need to learn more about marketing and I need to find something that I have to offer that the world is actually interested in before I’m going to find the kind of traffic that would indicate that I’m doing this well, but I still get discouraged. It’s hard to put myself out there day after day and hear crickets.

So there are reasons for this feeling that I am so invisible. I am hoping that this job change will help alleviate some of this feeling. And as I (hopefully) find more clarity on where my passions meet the needs of the world, I should be able to better produce content (or products or services or something) that will create some interest. I am also working on a few new avenues for potentially finding more people with whom I have things in common to perhaps create a bit of community for me. That’s looking promising, but relationships and community take a long time to develop, so it’s not a quick fix. In fact, all of these will likely take a good deal of time to grow into the connections that I am hoping for.

So what can I do in the meantime? I can’t change my personality—I’ve tried that many, many times over the years, and it just doesn’t work. I can’t change the availability of my close friends; they are doing the best that they can to find time for me. I can’t change the oddities of the way that online conversations work, with the emphasis on witty banter or the frequent lack of meaningful interaction. But I can change my expectations.

I can learn to embrace invisibility instead of fighting it. I can find better ways to acknowledge my visibility to myself, through affirmations, journaling, and mirror work. I can reduce my online time even further so that I am less aware of the ways that conversations flow around me as if I am an island. I can continue working on having less need to be “seen” and affirmed by others, which will help me to be more grateful when I get that without feeling like I need it. And I can accept that this is just one of the hazards of putting my work out there for the world to see (or not see). I am a writer and a creator, so I need to learn to live with the downsides of that as well as the joys of it.

And just as an ending note, as I read back through this, I realize that it sounds like I am whining and unhappy with my lot in life, and I’m really not. I am just noticing that this feeling of invisibility is causing some negative outcomes, so this is my way of exploring it to find better ways of dealing with it moving forward. My life is actually very good, and this is just a minor irritation to be dealt with. I’d love to hear how others have dealt with this feeling of invisibility, though, if any of you have ever experienced it!

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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10 thoughts on “Invisibility

  1. I purposefully placed a cloak of invisibility around myself after leaving a 10 year relationship that had turned abusive. I needed to hide, to “lick my wounds,” of which there were (and still are) many. I was stripped down to not even a shred of who I was. I reluctantly and fearfully started my new life and am having to relearn how to be social as I was extremely isolated within the confines of that relationship.

    My best friend and I were discussing my invisibility and isolation just today actually. I shared that perhaps the purpose of my being stripped bare by leaving my “previous” life is to learn how to invite only the people I truly WANT into my life. When I stopped and looked at the situation that way, it didn’t seem so intimidating. I am at a place that I can choose invisibility or not. I can take time to learn what and who I want – and most importantly TRUST – inside my world. Knowing I can build my world and those in it from scratch is amazingly freeing. Still very lonely, but liberating. I certainly am clear on what I DON’T want in my relationships – let’s hope that means I will recognize what I DO want. And perhaps it’s getting close to time to remove my cloak?!

    • Good for you, Lisa, in having the courage to leave that relationship. That sounds like a very painful thing to go through, and I can well imagine that taking a period of invisibility would be the safest thing for you to do. It sounds like this time has given you many rich rewards in learning what you do and don’t want. I am so inspired just reading about your experience and the way you have approached it!

      I’m also glad you shared it because it makes me wonder whether I have unconsciously done something similar. I know I have withdrawn some from social activities with a similar need to heal and re-evaluate my life, and I actually very seldom feel lonely. I enjoy my solitude. But this feeling that I am invisible when I do reach out (either via personal emails/messages that go unanswered or via my work on the blog/Etsy) is what is so unnerving. However, I wonder if I am somehow projecting an air of invisibility on an energetic level that is creating this reality (or vice versa, maybe I am projecting an air of neediness that is scaring people off). Hmmm … that gives me another avenue to observe and consider.

      Thanks again so much for sharing! I am grateful that you share your experience with me. It is always such an encouragement! Best of luck as you approach the time when you are ready to remove your own cloak of invisibility! I wish you clarity in knowing when that time is ripe and many blessings as you remove it and move back out into the world.

  2. Beverly Clark character in Shall We Dance quote:

    We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

    Just a little food for thought. I am not saying marriage “fixes” things – or that anything is actually broken – when we live such isolated lives. But I do know that for me, I feel a loss at not also “being a witness to” someone else’s life, as I live in such solitude at this time as well.

    • What a lovely quote! Thanks for sharing it! I think this is the thing that draws me about marriage (or in my case, a marriage equivalent) – that feeling that someone would be my witness and I would be hers. I miss that sense of being a witness in that way to someone else’s life as well. I hope someday to meet the right person to have that kind of relationship with, but I know that it’s important to have the right person or it is possible to be invisible even in a marriage. Thanks again for sharing! I hope you are able to find the right person to witness your life and for whom you can be a witness.

  3. I’ve been repeatedly told that “connectedness” is a part of our experience on this earth. Living beings of all types need to feel a part of something – or connected in some way to another living being. As I continue my journey of healing, I find this concept to leave such a bad taste in my mouth. Not that I don’t want to connect to others in an intimate way but I find my trust and safety has been so compromised most of my life (and I readily admit by my own subconscious doing), it’s simply the thought that being absorbed by another is distasteful. But that is my own perverted definition of marriage. I hope that one day I will want to reach out and connect on a profound level with someone. Bearing witness sounds like a lovely premise. I regret I have become cynical of such a relationship. But don’t they say acknowledgement of our lessons is half the battle? Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing the quote. Funny how we hear what we need when we need it. It’s a beautiful way of defining commitment.

    • I agree, Lisa, that the idea of being absorbed by another is very distasteful, but I think it is possible to be connected to others without becoming absorbed. (Although I’m still working on learning how to do this in a healthy way because of my own baggage.) I also agree that the idea of bearing witness, as Anonymous mentioned, is one of the most beautiful ways I’ve heard of expressing what this healthy connection might look like. I am grateful to you for sharing your struggles and your insights about your own journey here. Thank you!

  4. What a thought-provoking post, KJ, and the comments it has elicited are so insightful. I had been thinking about your two previous posts but as often happens with your blog, I do more thinking than commenting but just know, you are my thoughts often.

    Of course, in some ways I have just restated your point about invisibility but as an introvert and one who enjoys a great deal of solitude, I so appreciate what you have been saying about the call of the Internet, as it sometimes can seem that there is no one in cyberspace. I have had those same feelings but less so these days.

    When we connect, we want a worthwhile connection. The idea of connection has changed for me, and I suspect it has to do with being immersed in writing as well as meditating regularly for both have always been my access to consciousness. These past two years, I have been learning to let go of outcome. Surprisingly, I have found myself more involved in life, the one thing I was seeking, because I am no longer attached to that outcome. It means living more in the unknown rather than the known, observing rather than reacting, but it is fulfilling.

    I enjoy your posts and applaud your courage. I like to think that we are getting to know one another.

    Karen

    • Thank you so much, Karen! I know exactly what you mean about thinking more than commenting sometimes – I do that too! I really appreciate your sharing how letting go of the outcome has made such a difference for you. I am working in that direction, but I’m still very early in that part of my journey and am still taking baby steps. It’s so encouraging to hear from someone who is further along that pathway reporting such fulfillment. I love the idea of learning to live more in the unknown than the known. What a powerful way to live!

      Thanks so much for commenting today. I am enjoying getting to know you through your posts as well. It is a delight to be able to join you on your journey.

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