A few weeks ago someone I greatly admire called me a real life superhero. Embarrassed and feeling very much surprised I had a little laugh to myself thinking if only they knew the truth. Because you see I’m certainly no superhero in fact I have often felt like a nobody. I have felt that my voice is often not heard, I tend to be a quiet person, fleeing from confrontation, I find it hard to speak up and struggle to challenge others. I like to be in the background and hate to be centre of attention. Yes I admit that some days I feel invisible, like no one sees me and what I try to achieve.
My youngest daughter is very much into comics and superheroes and we have often sat talking about what comic character we would be and what superpower we would choose. This got me to thinking about feeling invisible and how maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all, after all it’s a secret superpower that can be used for good.
We live in a world where everything is big, bold, bright, and loud. This certainly gets attention so people and products noticed. I daily come across many wonderful people who are just this. They have bold, bright personalities that attract and engage others and due to this they are able to make big impacts and get much done. I’ve often felt at a loss and wished that I could be that way also. I know at times I have sat in meetings and struggled to have my ideas heard because others would be louder and more confident and I would leave kicking myself for not having voiced what I so desperately wanted to say. I have often felt left out too, never part of the crowd, but I like things that are unique to me and again this has made me feel invisible.
I’m not up there shouting for attention and as such I feel frustrated feeling I am letting down others that need me to speak out for them. I still find in the public arena it difficult to get my voice heard. This fills me with immense frustration, I know that there are many like me who are struggling and are unable to voice their stories. In my heart I want to be that voice in the darkness but have felt lacking in my abilities to be big, bold, and loud. I have been trying really hard to turn this view around.
Do I need to be bigger than life in order to be heard?
When Im supporting families I often go about it in a calm quiet way. I like to listen and let them talk and I like to give them time and space to really open up about what’s important to them.
Especially do I find this to be true when with families on neonatal units where they are stressed and worried and were amongst the noise of the machines, parents sit staring at their little ones in glass boxes with what feels like the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Sometimes I barely say two sentences, little more than “hello, how is your little one doing today”, or “how are you coping?”, before a deluge of pain and worry is shared. I’ve sat on cold hospital floors listening to a parent sometimes while they just stared into space, letting out everything weighing on their heart, from the fear of their baby dying, to their desperation of wanting to have just a normal day again doing normal things. At that point in someway I am invisible, I’m not a nurse, or a doctor, visible and there to make life saving choices but just someone they can pour their hearts out too. My uniform is gone, my name badge means nothing, my face may not be remembered, but what does matter is that they know I care and that I am there for them.
A while ago a mom I had been supporting was about to be discharged, she has been quite offish with me when I first met her but now she was hugging me, crying and thanking me for my support. Her words struck me, this is what she said, ” you will never know how much you have helped me, when you first came to see me I thought you would be pushy and care only about what I needed to do for my baby. But you weren’t, you were calm and quiet, you asked me about how I was and about normal life outside the unit. I remember the day you just sat on the floor and held my hand in silence while we waited for them to Xray my baby. You didn’t need to speak but you were there and it was just what I needed”. That conversation taught me so much. It taught me that I didn’t need to be loud and bold, I just needed to be me, I didn’t need fancy words or to try to cheer her up or make things ok, but just to be there.
In the comics the greatest thing about being invisible is being able to go places or do things that others cannot. This again made me realise that feeling invisible is a good thing. I realise that being low profile means I can reach out and get involved in more things. It also means that I have been drawn to others who also are quietly trying to bring about change.
Change and achieving things isn’t always about those that shout the loudest, because change can take many forms. Have you noticed how in films the stars always have to tell everyone their cunning plan? As the main characters this is expected, yet when your not the lead role, but in the background, you can write your own story, no one is expecting you to save the day, or take the lead, your free to do things as you choose. Also without the back up of their team even superheroes struggle to save the day. We are all valuable whatever our role. Some will always step forward to be the lead role, these will wow everyone and gain much praise and adulation, their name will be in lights and they will most likely achieve great things. But also there are those in the background, supporting and getting on with things. They don’t always bask in the light or see their name in lights but they find joy, satisfaction and contentment just the same.
Together everyone brings different qualities and attributes to a team no one is greater or lesser and no one achieves more than another because they all need each other. Let’s face it we even need the villains because without them there would be no need for heroes.
Another benefit to the invisibility superpower is being able to see what others do not. People have always fascinated me and I love to observe people’s personalities. I found that while I was busy trying to make my voice heard or get my ideas across I wasn’t always listening and watching. Being invisible gave me such an insight.
Sitting back meant being able to truly listen but also to watch, and it’s amazing what you can learn. You see all the beauty in people, suddenly they are open and exposed. You can see what makes them tick, what drives their passion and what makes them upset and frustrated. You also learn how to reach them.
Some people want just facts, presented in a clear way. Others want to talk, discuss and reach a choice but with the help of others. Some desire attention and praise, others want acceptance and to belong. Seeing all this means being able to communicate in a way that means it can be more effective to get ideas across, it enables us to present ourselves in way that will draw others and make them want to listen to what we have to say. Some call it being empathic or having emotional intelligence but I like to think of it as a super sense that comes from having an invisibility cloak.
Of all the benefits of being invisible the best is being able to outwit the villain. Unfortunately in life we meet people who are unable to wish others well and rejoice in other people’s successes. They can be the villains to our happy story, seeking to bring us down, make us doubt our abilities, lose our joy, dampen our passion and make us feel like giving up. These individuals can suck us dry.
There’s always that part in the comic where the hero almost loses the fight and feels like giving up. Down beaten and down trodden somehow they find the strength from within to carry on. The desire to do what is right and with the support of others the hero raises again. Invisibility here can help us, sometimes we can be too honest, we can be so full of the wonderful things we are enjoying that it bubbles over like a mountain spring. Sometimes it’s more prudent to be invisible, picking who we reveal ourselves and our hopes and dreams too. Picking people to ‘see’ us that want what is best for us, who seek to encourage us and are prepared to support us along the way will give us the strength we need to attain our goals. However, if we know who our ‘villains’ are, who seek to bring us down, who we know will sap our strength, then being invisible is clearly a way to keep ourselves safe.
I will never be the big, bold person that is the life of the party making everyone laugh. I’m just me, but I’ve embraced this.
Sometimes I’m invisible. I’m not the first person people think of, or the person they admire or the person that’s at the front leading the way, but I am there. I am there with my passion, looking out for those who need help along the way, trying hard to make a difference in my own quiet way.
Yes, being invisible is just fine, in fact sometimes it’s just plain amazing, because I am winning the fight, be it but quietly, I am supporting the right causes, even if it’s in the background and I will outwit the Villains to win the day.
Yet most of all I like being invisible because sometimes it means I can just be there holding someone’s hand and helping them in the darkest of hours. So the next time you feel invisible remember its your secret superpower, and your a superhero who is just waiting to be discovered.