Yesterday, in a Facebook group, a member was curious if anyone else was feeling invisible lately or if it was just her. Naturally I had to stop and explore if this was something in my life.
As I looked around my life and the situations I’ve been in lately, I noticed that it wasn’t so much a feeling of being invisible that was playing in my world but a sense of being called forward. I’ve had many situations lately of being challenged to claim my space here – like on this planet.
What do these situations look like?
You’ll see it in the moments when you stop to look at what’s happening and examine your options for the situation. You realize that you have a choice to follow someone else’s lead or demands rather than voicing your opinion or desires. For many years I’d go with whatever the other person was asking for simply because it was easier or I didn’t care enough to voice my opinion.
These situations sound like: “You go ahead; I’m not in a hurry.” Or “Yes I can do that for you.” Or “I don’t really care what or where we eat, you choose.” Or “Fine, I’ll do it your way even though it makes no sense and has 6 extra steps!”
Am I invisible?
In those situations, in all these years, I think I was making myself invisible. So it would make sense that life would respond in kind, to the point where people simply weren’t seeing me. You know what that looks like! People cut ahead in line without seeming to see you or acknowledging that you exist. Service people will help other customers no matter how long you seem to have been waiting. I’d swear there were times even automatic door openers weren’t sensing me!
Do I want to stay invisible?
We’re constantly faced with all of those situations; that’s just part of being a human living in a society. If you’re like me, all of this reflection got me to wondering: since I’ve caved in and allowed myself to become invisible for all these years, what’s changed that I’m now seeing this as a challenge to claim my space?
Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe it has something to do with noticing that my remaining time here is getting shorter and do I really want to keep doing things that don’t work for me? Do I really want to lurk in the shadows of my life? Or is it time to claim my space here and be a contribution to life. And maybe I’d like to participate in the way my story plays out rather than passively observing it. Yes, I think that’s it!
How are things different?
If I really look at the progression of this “claiming my space” thing, I think it really started when we were looking to move from our house in the city to a condo so we could simplify our city/country living situation. We’d looked at a number of apartments and condos. Then when we came to look at the one we wound up purchasing, I had a completely different tone when I said “this is it” to my husband. He was shocked … and pleased that I was so vocal about it.
Now it looks like me becoming more direct at work – especially with clients. I started speaking up more about what I wanted to do or eat or whatever. I started going first when coming to a lineup at the same time as someone else. Sometimes they let me go ahead and I don’t insist that they take the spot – with a “thank you” of course! – and sometimes I just go ahead and thank them with a smile.
Claiming my space has even looked like me not asking my husband for his opinion if it was time for me to grow my natural (aka greying) hair out! We’ve had many conversations over the last couple years about this and it was never well received. This time I simply stopped asking and stopped colouring my hair. (For the record, we have since had a conversation about it and the transition continues!) I know that last example seems like a silly one but it was big for me at the time.
The funny thing is that since I’ve started speaking up more and making my presence known, things have gotten much easier and more enjoyable for me. I feel like more of a partner in my marriage. After a little bit of shock, my co-workers, clients and friends actually seem to appreciate my input more as well. Who knew?! Life seems lighter somehow and I definitely feel more engaged with it! I am no longer invisible by default. I no longer feel invisible – unless I want to in a specific circumstance.