Hello, I'm Nobody.
I am one of the invisible people. You know, the people that no one ever notices or really sees; the person who is always there but no one could really describe them. I hate crowds because people walk right into me and don’t even notice. Remember the suicidal girl in What Women Want? She was one of the invisible people.
You wouldn’t know by looking at me, if you really ever look at me, that I’m one of them. Often invisible people have some sort of handicap or they’re very plain or very shy. I’m not any of those – well not visibly (haha) that is. My handicaps are the sort that don’t show, and while I’ve never been extremely beautiful I have black hair, really white skin, and dual colored eyes - you’d think my eyes would make me at least somewhat noticeable (actually, it’s the opposite, most times people don’t realize my eyes are different colors until they’ve known me for a while).
And, I’m not shy – I never have been. In fact, I probably wouldn’t know shy if it reached out and bit me. I could possibly blame my invisibility on being petite, but I’ve known petite women who were visible, so I don’t think that’s it.
As a child, I hated this. I equated being seen with being loved. I’m sure there were some sort of sub-conscious reasons for this. My sister isn’t one of the invisible people, and people seemed to effortlessly love her, and that probably had more to do with it than anything else. The flip was true, too – I equated not being seen with not being loved. You’ll note, I didn’t say that I equated not being seen with being hated, because, as many of invisible people know – no one hates what they don’t see. To be hated is to be seen.
Then, as a teen – a point in your life that you want to be seen more so than ever, this led me into depression. When I was 14 I tried to cut my wrists – but that’s harder to do than you think and so I was left with just small cuts on my wrists. I went to school the next day, but no one noticed I’d tried to cut my wrists, because I’m invisible.
And so, I became pretty obnoxious. Because, at least if I was obnoxious I was seen, right? I was loud, I was in your face, I wore bright colors – I was screaming LOOK AT ME, I’M HERE. But the truth is that obnoxious people are ignored too, but then it’s deliberate. I’ve learned that it’s even worse to be deliberately ignored than accidently ignored. Don’t believe me? Wait until you start to walk up to a friend only to have them duck away hoping you didn’t see them. Besides, why bother putting all the effort into being seen if the end result is the same – you’re still invisible.
I'm Nobody! by Emily Dickinson
I’m Nobody! Who are you? Are you – Nobody – too? Then there’s a pair of us! Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know! How dreary – to be – Somebody! How public – like a Frog – To tell one’s name – the livelong June – To an admiring Bog!
But here’s the weird thing. As I grew up, I realized that being unseen isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I cultivate it. For one thing, invisible people aren’t invisible to each other. I can recognize my kind at a glance. No one appreciates you like an invisible person, because being seen is so rare. Remember that poem, by Emily Dickinson where she says, “Hello, I’m Nobody, who are you? Are you Nobody, too? Then there’s a pair of us!”
For another, I get to observe people in a way a visible person wouldn’t. I can sit in a crowd and stare and no one really notices me; I feel like this has allowed me to understand people in a way that many people never really will. I’m an excellent mime, because of this and often have friends laughing as I imitate what I see. The anonymity of being invisible allows me a comfort that isn’t allowed to the visible – no one is going to notice if I have stubble on my legs or my hair isn’t perfectly combed or I’m talking to myself, because no one really notices me anyway. And my absolute favorite part of being invisible is the surprise on people’s faces when they realize that I’m more than they thought.
I’m not entirely sure how I became comfortable with being invisible – I wish I knew so I could share and maybe help another invisible person with a pair of scissors to her wrist, but I don’t. I suspect, to some extent, it was a spiritual thing first. I became a Christian shortly after my last suicide attempt. My comfort didn’t come suddenly, as anyone who knew me in high school can attest. Maybe, knowing that God sees me, and really believing that, was enough to make me okay with not being seen by people. After all, if God sees you, isn’t that pretty amazing?