Are you free enough to risk being seen by other people?
Most of us are not. At least, not when we’re young. It takes years of working on ourselves and working with others before we reach that level of comfort with self.
This explains why wearing a nametag was so awkward for the first few years. It’s not that people were suddenly noticing me, it’s that people were actually seeing me. Big difference.
Somehow, the fact that all these complete strangers on campus knew my name, and used it in public, penetrated the superficial acknowledgment that I was used to receiving. We connected on a deeper level, and wow was that scary.
Maybe people would find out the awful truth about me. They would see my countless insecurities and failures and quirks and realize they made a mistake by interacting with me and should probably take their friendship somewhere else.
To paraphrase on of my favorite artists, they see me better than I am, and I’m worried what will happen when their vision changes.
Doesn’t every scared twenty year old kid feel the same way? Weren’t all of us fighting some version of imposter syndrome in our trembling youth?
Dylan famously wrote that being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed, the songwriter said, and that’s why he disappeared a lot.
Makes sense. Exposure makes you vulnerable. If you don’t exist, how can you possibly be a problem?
And for some people, especially those who have a history of physical abuse, the struggle with the issue of visibility is debilitating. They equate being seen with being unsafe, and so, they keep a low profile to avoid repeating their past.
Have you ever met someone who could barely make and keep eye contact with you? Someone for whom trusting was simply too expensive of an investment?
God it makes my heart ache. And the sad part is, only through our real moments of human connection can we heal this.
But deprived of the reality that comes from being seen and heard by others, we cannot develop the self to its fullest. We don’t all need to wear nametags, but we need to find a way to practice the complicated skill of being seen.
To become comfortable receiving people’s attention, without running away before they get close, without judging them for loving us, and without wondering how they’re going to hurt us next.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you worried what will happen when people’s vision of you changes?