When I was younger I felt invisible in every way possible. I’d say part of it was my upbringing and part of it was my personality. While I’m very sociable, I never enjoyed meeting people until I was able to do smalltalk, which to this day still always end in mind-numbing silence two sentences into a conversation. I suppose that’s why I loved being on stage because I didn’t have to converse, I could play a part and be the center of the (although small) universe even if it was just for a second. I’m still like that, put me on stage, and let me play any part and I will not waver, I will not fall (unless scripted), I will commit 100% and you won’t know where I start and other things end…
But then I got older and I realized that if you’re surrounded by people that you genuinely like and that in turn also genuinely care for you, you don’t have to play a part, you don’t have to pretend, you can just be and they will see you, even look out for you. It took me some time to navigate the minefields of friendship, but eventually I got there. As with anything, practice was important, yes – also in friendships. Some friends I met every day in school, others I met on the weekends only, others again I only met occasionally, but every time it felt like no time had passed at all and we all got very comfortable with each other. When we met, everyone was seen, everyone was heard, everyone was uplifted, and at the end of the night, everyone was most likely drunk. Not that this was a necessity, but it’s what we did. While I never looked forward to a hangover, I always looked forward to that warm fuzzy comfortable feeling I would get when I knew I could really be me and that I was really seen for who I was and who I wanted to be.
With time, we all got distracted, took different paths, and altogether practice seized to exist. I’d like to think that if we all randomly met each other again on the street, we’d pick up right where we left off, and maybe we would, but the reality is, we probably won’t.
So, there I was now, in the open world – mine for the taking, but yet again invisible. No safety net, no bubble of protective friends around me, just me and I again felt invisible. The vain of my existence raised its ugly head, and while I am not plagued with anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness (that I am aware of), the feeling of being invisible, like a heavy curtain all around me, was suffocating me. Here’s the thing though. I have no illusion of who I am and how – in a sea full of faces – insignificant I am compared to all the accomplishments, all the bravery, all the hardships that everyone around me has endured. I am one woman in a world full of obstacles and while I don’t possess all the knowledge or abilities necessary to overcome all these obstacles, I realized that I have one thing that was entirely mine and that’s my voice.
Ever since I was young, I used my voice – not always in the right way – but I used it to (in my mind) protect the ones that were vulnerable and maybe felt like they were invisible. When I saw unjust behavior or circumstances, I’d be loud and proud to step up, when I saw pain and horror, I’d try my best to shield the ones being harmed, and when I saw the signs of someone being invisible, I tried my best to let them know that I saw them in all their beauty. I’d go out of my way to connect with that person – regardless of my inability to do smalltalk, I would still try.
Subsequently, this is also why I chose to go into the field that I am working in now. The oceans don’t talk and while marine animals have voices, we cannot hear them as such, we cannot hear or begin to understand their pain. If we were to measure our knowledge of the ocean it would it be eating a third of a rice corn of a marvelous paella and being expected to be full. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, nor can I really say what the outcome of my involvement in all things ocean will be, but if there is one thing I can say for certain, it’s that I make sure that none of these issues are invisible. In doing exactly this – lending my voice to amplify invisible issues – I in turn have fought my own demons of feeling insignificant and invisible.
My point is that we all have demons that torture us, some bigger than others, it’s tough realizing that these demons are part of us and accepting them. Mostly we hide every little ugly thing about us, no matter how small. But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to take a stance and take stock of ourselves, use whatever we are born with and make sure that we leave our own individualistic mark in this world… I’ll let you in on one last secret – we all are superheroes, we all have superpowers, we all are more than capable, so why not use everything we have to make sure that we all leave the world better than we have found it? As for me – part of me will always struggle with feeling invisible, that’s who I am – but feeling invisible is also just a small part of me and with every day going forward, that part of me becomes smaller and smaller and makes room for all the invisible parts that yet need uncovering.