Do you feel seen?
I very nearly titled this piece “Do You Feel Invisible?”, because so many of us tiptoe through life feeling that way — as though we are ghosts or observers of our own lives. We seem a little surprised when anyone notices that we are there. We are uncomfortable with attention, even (or especially?) if it’s positive. It’s not a great way to live.
I did some research before writing this, and I’m finding that there are quite a few reasons why someone might feel invisible. Some are systemic and external — for example, people of colour or those who are gender nonconforming might feel that they are overlooked and not listened to because of stereotypes in other people’s minds. Or we may have grown up feeling small, unsafe, or a perpetual outsider, which would result in us feeling it is just safer not to be noticed. Either way, once we have become aware of this, we can decide to take action on it, if we wish.
But let’s talk about being seen, and why we might want to work on overcoming our habits of invisibility. Like anything else, there are positives and negatives to being seen. It’s great to connect with others, to feel that they understand what we are going through (in fact, on the Internet, when someone exclaims “I feel seen!” in response to a meme, it usually means that they identify with the emotion evoked by the meme).
On the other hand, it can feel scary and exposed if the response is not exactly what we wanted. There is responsibility connected to being seen and heard and taken seriously, and that can be intimidating, too. Are we ready to assume leadership?
As someone who has always been physically small and has often felt like an outsider in most of my communities, I definitely have some habits of mind that sometimes prevent me from feeling seen. But I am committed to working on them, and I hope you will come with me on this journey. Maybe we can see each other, and that would be the best of all.
West Kildonan community correspondent
Hadass Eviatar is a community correspondent for West Kildonan.