The incredible invisible girl has always been around. You might not have noticed her, but she was there. You went to elementary school together, toughed out junior high sex-ed, and somehow managed to survive high school together. You probably dated one of her friends but never noticed the quiet girl somewhere in the background. You don’t know her name because it never occurred to you to remember her. The incredible invisible girl has always excelled in her role.
She’s the observer. She stands with one foot out the door so that she can bow out without notice. She’s the girl who feels broken and certain that everyone has noticed the parts she tries to keep hidden — the depression and anxiety that she’s fought since she was a child. She’s also the girl who has spent her life waiting for someone to notice that maybe — just maybe — she wants in.
Instead, she will maintain her role through college and grad school. She’ll even discover a particular phenomenon among men in bars: how earlier in the evening, when the drinking is still in its earliest stages and everyone can still recall their own name without hesitation, she does not exist. A man may lean on her as he stumbles around — a clear pre-gamer whose friends are not yet on the same drunken page and far too sober to notice that their friend is using an actual person (read: me) for the same purpose walls often serve. It’s not their fault; they’re not drunk enough to notice her yet. Another man might walk completely into her, despite her fervent attempts to move out of the way of his drunken stumbles. For this part of the evening, she will be invisible.
Then, as beer one turns into four and five, as the rejections from other women start pouring in, and passive aggressive arguments have begun amongst friends, she will be found. Suddenly, she will be a viable option for the evening. In a desperate attempt not to be alone, the guys will scrape the bottom of the barrel. These guys will come to her.
Generally, they will make a comment about her breasts or some other overly sexualized part of the female anatomy. They might make a comment about how she’s not dancing. They will probably ask her if any of her friends are single before they make any other attempts at engaging her (lest they miss out on the “hot girl”) in their idea of drunken conversation but she will be far too sober to tolerate the game at all. She will remain at the bar as you talk to her friends though, staring at the back of your uneven haircut, throwing the occasional balled-up straw wrapper in your shirt collar (don’t worry, you never noticed).
You see, the invisible girl is not stupid. She’s quiet and observant and she knows you’re being an asshole. The invisible girl is smarter than you are — double that once you’re drunk. She knows she’s your last ditch effort at not going home alone but, the invisible girl is going to let you make that long trip alone anyway — she’s going home alone too.
She always goes home alone. No phone number exchanges and hopeful waiting for a text later in the night or even a few days after. The invisible girl will accept her loneliness and not expect more from anyone. The invisible girl will remain used to caring for others above herself and will neglect key aspects of her life in order to do so.
Until one day, the invisible girl will choose to be seen. The incredible invisible girl will get an itch to be noticed and struggle with how to best explore this. She’ll try clearing her throat and declaring her existence but her voice will sound shaky and her declaration uncertain. She’ll back down afterwards, on shaky ankles, when someone approaches and congratulates her on her performance — when her visibility is confirmed. She’ll retreat into her shell and wish she could be invisible again.
In her efforts to retreat, however, she will find that her shell is no longer the comfortable place she called home mere moments before. She needs more space and it’s far darker than she remembers.
Remarkably, her bed will begin to feel too big.
The invisible girl will begin to make a new life for herself. She’ll stop assuming the worst and start expecting to be treated with some semblance of the respect she knows she deserves. She’ll stumble often, she’ll cry too. She’ll find a new home and create it on her own.
Things will be different because she’s not making herself small anymore. She’s not focusing exclusively on the needs of others and relationships will change accordingly. She’ll work on not apologizing continuously for her opinions and feelings. She’ll laugh as she tells the story of the guy at the bar who asked to see her breasts and she won’t feel a lingering sadness that she went home alone without the hope of rectifying her single life.
The invisible girl will still feel invisible sometimes because, frankly, old habits die hard. She will have rough nights that feel overwhelmingly lonely but she’ll move through it by actually sharing with another person that sometimes life just sucks, instead of pretending she’s fine. The formerly incredible invisible girl will live her life regardless of the anxiety and fear telling her to stay where she is. She’ll even celebrate the broken pieces she had always been afraid to show.
It will be some time before she feels another person truly sees her but she puts faith in the idea that maybe someday she’ll bump into the man who can make her bed feel less cold, who can expand her life even farther beyond her old shell, and who sees her — broken parts and all — always.
The invisible girl has stopped being invisible and, even though she stumbles often, she gets back up, laughs it off (sometimes cries it through), and continues working on creating the life that will make her happy. She’s taking care of herself now. She’s braver than you’d think and this is just the beginning…
The incredible formerly invisible girl is just getting started.