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.