To the Person Who is Afraid of Being Seen
To the Person Who is Afraid of Being Seen:
I totally get you.
Well maybe not totally, but I get you at least a little bit.
Being seen, especially if you’re introverted like me, can be completely debilitating, stir-up feelings of anxiety, panic, stress, and the weirdest desire to throw a magical invisibility cloak on yourself.
Being seen—truly being seen, almost feels a little violating.
We as individuals walk the streets, whether alone or together, only to comfortably blend into a crowd of colors and movements.
We feel as if we are not alone even in a sea of strangers and that comfortable familiarity we get from ‘blending’ makes it pretty damn hard to leave.
Placing yourself in a position to be seen—to walk against the sea of colors—to choose unfamiliarity over comfort, to choose to ride the waves of the unknown—which many choose to do alone—is, at least for me, down right terrifying.
As human beings we need a sense of belonging to be happy (or at least Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us we do) so that’s why a person walking with others goes unnoticed, but the one that walks alone cannot help but be given a glance.
When I traveled Italy alone, I put on sunglasses not just for the anti-aging benefit but to block out the stares of others.
I couldn’t help be wonder what they were thinking.
What is that woman doing alone? Does she not have someone? Won’t someone join her for dinner?
I can’t tell you how many times I had to insist on a ‘Party of 1’, as if that went practically unheard of.
Being alone in the world where ‘just me' obviously meant ‘just me and a few friends’ was strange.
Participating in a strange act definitely got me a fair share of concerning stares and glances.
And for someone who felt unnerved at the mere thought of being looked at, you can imagine how uncomfortable it made me.
At first, anyways.
Now, being seen is one of the most unsettling actions I make it a point to practice.
Being seen isn’t just the eyes of others that I fear, but the judgment of myself through the eyes of others.
The eyes that tell me "I’m doing something I shouldn’t be" are my own interpretation. For all I know they’re just zoning out and daydreaming about dinner or trying to do mental math on the tip to give at a restaurant.
The way others perceive you can never be known.
But the way you perceive yourself can, with practice.
Place yourself in a place that demands the attention of others.
And with each pair of eyes you feel on you or the amount of one-second stares you share with a stranger—without feeling their judgment, first look inward.
What do you see?
Feel that and reflect it outwards.
The eyes of others do not tell anyone’s story but your own.
You can never know the story behind their glances, but you can change what you think you see in theirs.
The ability to be seen is also the ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Allow yourself to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable.
The more time you spend in the uncomfortable, the more you expand your boundaries of the unfamiliar.
And with the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar diminishing, your world becomes yours.