The world might tell you this lie: that good women are invisible. Maybe you heard it growing up, that to be seen was unseemly, that calling attention to yourself was inappropriate, that staying small and quiet and undemanding was the path to being loved and accepted.
Or maybe making yourself invisible was how you stayed safe. If they didn’t notice you, they wouldn’t come after you—so your body and spirit stayed away from harm by keeping quiet, never tripping anyone’s alarm.
I know that feeling.
I know that feeling—of wanting to be myself, but not wanting anyone else to really notice or question me.
Of wanting to say what I thought, but not wanting to start an argument.
Of wanting to be seen for who I was, but not wanting to be misunderstood or made fun of or have to wade through the shame that comes along with snide comments from random (and not-so-random) people.
Or of wanting to speak up, but not wanting anyone to think you’re demanding attention, or demanding the spotlight, or demanding anything, really. Because demanding isn’t polite, is it? Demanding isn’t nice.
Nice looks like waiting your turn, or waiting for an invitation. It’s waiting until your presence and your opinions would be convenient for everyone else. It’s not rocking the boat.
But “nice” is not actually the goal.
“Nice” is not our highest calling in life. “Nice” is code for “doesn’t disturb the comfortable.”
You can be all kinds of things in this world—brave or kind or wise or compassionate or truthful or authentic or loving or present or strong or thoughtful or empathetic or trustworthy or open—but every one of those things require your whole self. If you’re going to be who you were made to be, you cannot also play “nice” by shrinking yourself.
And then there’s this: who IS being seen when we make ourselves invisible?
Whose voice do we hear when we do not hear yours?
Who benefits when you do not speak up for what you need? For what your children need? For what EVERY child needs?
Who benefits when you do not raise your voice alongside everyone else who doesn’t have a seat at the table? Who benefits when you don’t say what you see, and call our attention to what we’re missing?
Who benefits when you do not talk back, do not object, do not challenge, do not insist?
If staying invisible is what good women do, what happens when the world is running on fear and anger and outrage and division? What happens when your imagination and your truth and your love-fueled vision are kept quiet? Who benefits from your invisibility then?
How is the world made better by your being unseen and unheard?
(It isn’t. It never is.)
And yes, refusing to be invisible is a risk.
Your being seen opens you up to the possibility that other people will not like you, or not like you being visible. You will be criticized. You will make someone uncomfortable. You are threatening power structures that are built on your invisibility. But you are also opening yourself up to possibilities of growth and connection and resilience that you could never tap into if you’d stayed out of sight.
Choosing to stay invisible is easier. But you were never meant to be invisible. It is hard to feel fully alive if you are not fully seen, and you were not meant for a halfhearted life.
It is not arrogance, to insist on your own presence. It is not praiseworthy to pretend to be less than you are—less than fully human, fully present, fully yourself.
I will get all spiritual on you for a second here and say that I think you are here to reflect the image of the divine, to show us something true about the nature of all things—and reflecting a truth that deep requires the fullness of your being.
You are not here to hide.
Don’t let us look right through you. Take up all the space you need, and be seen.
(And ALSO: if invisibility is your safety vest, stay safe. Find a safe person or a safe place that can help you sort out whether that invisibility cloak is still serving you, and what needs to change. xo.)