For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.II Timothy 1:7 (World English Bible)
Several months back, an acquaintance of mine started a Facebook post by saying, “I have always been one of those invisible people.” That struck me when I read it. “One of those invisible people.” I knew exactly what she meant! This is not about self-esteem or looking down on yourself. It is something more defined than that. It is the art of being invisible.
What does it mean to be invisible? The literal definition is “unable to be seen”. Many of us go through life and feel that we are not seen. We are hidden in the shadows, waiting to be noticed.
There are many reasons for this, but oftentimes, people feel invisible because everyone around them is so busy with their own concerns and cares that they forget to look around for other people.
The Power to be Invisible
When I was a kid, I remember being asked (several times in fact), “If you had a superpower, what would it be?” Some of my friends wanted to be super fast or super strong. Others wanted to have x-ray vision or amazing hearing powers. I always said that I wanted the power to be invisible, to come and go without being seen.
Why I said this, I am not sure. I was exceptionally shy as a young child and it took me many years to grow out of it. Even as a teenager, I always felt like I was bumbling around, feeling awkward and embarrassed. Maybe I felt that if I was invisible, no one would notice.
Or perhaps it was because, in my subconscious mind, I felt I already had this power.
I am sure you remember how it was growing up? There were many groups of kids at your school and I can almost guarantee one group was called “the popular kids”. Maybe you were even part of this group. There is nothing wrong with that! Some people are more outgoing than others. However, due to my fear and awkwardness, I felt pretty invisible.
I had plenty to say, plenty of good thoughts in my head and I usually knew the answers to the questions that were asked, but I could not speak up. Even if I did, it came out wrong and awkward. It was so embarrassing! So I stumbled through grade school, high school, and even college on the outskirts. Learning the art of being invisible.
This does not mean that I did not have a happy life or that I even had a low self-esteem. The opposite is the case. I had a very good life in my inner circle of people I felt comfortable with and I like myself just fine, thank you. It was my self-confidence that suffered. I couldn’t seem to get past my invisible wall.
Because I was always awkward and feeling dumb, I developed a defense mechanism of just assuming people did not like me. It was easier than stumbling through ridiculous conversations where I said dumb things and felt even dumber. Then I decided that if people did not like me, then I wouldn’t like them either. I hung out with a few good friends I felt comfortable with and left the rest.
When I was 25, I took a wild hair and decided to join the Army. Overall, it was probably the best decision I could have made to give me the confidence that I needed to be an adult. Even then, it took many years of training and learning to get to where I needed to be.
Making it an Art
How do you create an art out of being invisible? First, to make something into an art, you have to be skillful at it. The fear, awkwardness, and embarrassment have to be overcome. Then you can take that invisibility and become skillful at it. The art of being invisible.
Before I left on my deployment my sister said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “Just remember that people like you better than you like them.” As silly as that sounds, it helped me to get over myself and start reaching out to other people.
Every time I walked away from a conversation kicking myself for being dumb and awkward, instead of telling myself how much they much despise me, I told myself, “They like you more than you like them.” Then I could smile and not get sucked into the self-criticism. It helped build my confidence!
And somewhere I stopped caring that I was invisible to others. I did not worry about who liked who better, who won an award, and who was the best. I started to listen to other people when they talked instead of always thinking two sentences ahead so I did not “mess up” the conversation. Slowly my perspective started to change.
I was learning the art of being invisible.
I decided that if I felt invisible, there must be other people who feel that way too. (And there are. Lots!) Instead of worrying about whether a friend would come to sit by me, I started looking around for someone sitting awkwardly by themselves. I would go up and introduce myself and find out something about them. Soon I noticed that if I sat down by myself, it would not be long before I was surrounded by people.
One day when sitting in a crowded briefing room, I looked around and realized that out of almost 1,000 people, I knew 98% of them. I wasn’t invisible anymore! Sure, I still struggle with awkwardness when I first meet someone, but I have been given the confidence to know that they are probably also struggling inside.
Encouragement for You
Recently, I was reading another blog (Beauty in the Making) and the writer was talking about forgiving ourselves for our past even if it was something beyond our control. For instance, I can sit here and beat myself up because I could not talk to people, I could not get out of my comfort zone, and most of all because I could not defend myself. But what good would it do me or anyone else?
I have figured out in life that I can sit around and feel dumb, awkward, and totally invisible or I can use my power to be invisible to step back, scan the crowds, and find the other invisible people hanging out. Those are my kind of people anyway!
So, if you are feeling invisible, don’t try to change. Remember it is a superpower and hone your skills to learn the art of being invisible!
Here are two more of my favorite verses that remind me to have confidence and open up to others. I hope they help you too!
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. – Joshua 1:9 (World English Bible)
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10 (World English Bible)