I feel absolutely visible to the world most of the time but occasionally I feel like I am wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. I have been pondering this feeling lately. Am I the only person that feels like this? Should I do something about this? Is it all in my head?
When I am Visible
Each morning, I follow the same routine: I get myself and my children ready for going out and walk out the door with a positive mind set. After really focussing on becoming more positive in recent years, I go out feeling hopeful that something good will happen. Walking helps me to stay happy and content so I make sure I do quite a lot of it. It works for me. On our walks, I tend to greet everyone I meet with a smile. We live in a small town where the people, often random strangers, stop to have a little chat. I have lived here a long time and have come to expect that I will chat to at least three people each time we go out.
We have days when we talk to quite a lot of people, even on short walks. I say, “Hi!” to people we know, even if we are both too busy to stand and talk for a while. It is lovely. At work, I am acknowledged when I walk past someone. All of my emails are replied to within a reasonable timeframe. If I have a problem, it is resolved quickly. I am included in all aspects of my job and feel like part of the team. One opportunity leads to another in all my jobs on these days. I feel visible most days. People interact with me on these days. When people are chatting in a group, they include me on these visible days. I am heard, I am seen and I feel like I matter.
Other days, feeling invisible is the only way to describe it. I go about my day as normal. I say, “Hi!” to those I know. They walk past me and don’t acknowledge I am there. Was my voice loud enough? Actually, yes, it was. Did they see me? Actually, yes. They looked directly at me. I usually come to the conclusion that maybe they have lots going on in their mind at the moment. It is not about me but something they are going though at the moment. Maybe they looked at me but were too busy thinking about something else that they didn’t actually ‘see’ me.
That is all well and good, except that the days where I am feeling invisible, it seems that nearly every person I meet blanks me. I often wonder if this just a coincidence or whether I’ve done something really terrible that nobody has pointed out yet. On these days, paranoia briefly sets in before I reason everything out again. On these invisible days, my usually full inbox tends to be empty (maybe a plus side?) and any issues I have are not dealt with or acknowledged at all. On these days, I greet mums in the playground, only for them to start talking to the person stood behind me. At least nobody notices enough for me to feel embarrassed about this for long.
When I make a phone call on these days, nobody picks up. If I do manage to get through to someone, a company for example, I am told that they have lost all of my paperwork and have no record of me. I then spend the day filling in forms that they have misplaced plus finding details of everything they were meant to have on record for the past few years. When I have days where I am feeling invisible, the examples I have described above happen on the exact same day. I don’t wake up feeling invisible yet throughout the day, I feel more and more invisible by the moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite enjoy being invisible at times. It is nice to just have a moment to myself. Often though, it feels like something that just happens. Maybe on these days I have some kind of force field around me, repelling people from me. Maybe I look unapproachable on these days, even though I don’t feel any different in mind or body. I spoke to a couple of friends (on my visible days, of course!) about this. They said that they have moments and days like this too. I thought I was the only one that this happened to so it was a relief when I was told I wasn’t the only one.
Should I do Something About This?
I have researched online about this and found that I am definitely not alone. Some people feel invisible much more frequently than I do. According to some of the advice, I should change myself and I have brought all of this upon myself through my own behaviours. For some instances, this may be the case. It is possible that I sometimes give up and make myself invisible on days like these due to a couple of rejections first thing in the morning. I just get on with things and ignore the world. Generally though, I think that everyone just has quieter or sometimes has ‘off’ days. Maybe these invisible days are my ‘off’ days.
After all, they don’t happen all that often and nobody tells me that I have done anything terrible that I am unaware of. Or more likely, these invisible days aren’t actually about me. Maybe they are about other people and how they are feeling or how they are distracted on those days. I obviously take each individual situation and ask myself if it was something I had done wrong. I think I am quite aware of how I present myself to the world. Should I change how I am to stop feeling invisible at times? No, I don’t think I will.
Why do I Feel so Sensitive About Sometimes Feeling Invisible?
It is possible that I feel more sensitive to this due to the fact that I am a single parent who sees very few adults for more than a quick chat each day. Those small interactions with other people mean the world to me. I like when someone greets me with a. “Hello,” or a smile. I try to greet others like this too. It is possible that I am seeing others as I see myself. It’s very likely that those small interactions don’t mean as much to others as they do to me. Maybe they speak to their partner a lot or their job requires them to greet people all day. Maybe they don’t want to interact with everyone they meet on the pavement. It is possible that they have other things on their minds and that they don’t know my circumstances.
A Final Thought
Sometimes, people can feel lonely and invisible. Much more than I have ever felt. Even the smallest gesture can make such a difference to someone. When I walk down the street, I will continue to smile and speak to people, whether they blank me or not. Maybe one of those people is having an awful, invisible day, week or month and they just need a friendly smile from someone.