Invisible Girls

I have this huge blessing in my life in the form of a tall, golden-haired lady who likes to go on adventures with me around town, sharing our hearts with each other along the way. This morning we adventured down to Denver, grabbed some donuts, and spent a few hours in a coffee shop on Pennsylvania Avenue. Behold, our beautiful morning spread, as seen already on Facebook and Instagram.

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True fact: she’s always been better than me about self control and humility when it comes to the opposite sex. She’s always been more level-headed, and I have admired that for years. I’m super thankful to call her friend, and to be able to look up to her for these awesome traits. But this morning, she admitted something that I hadn’t really thought she felt before. And this resonated with me, because it suddenly hit me that we’ve felt the same way for quite a long time.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” she commented, after our giggle-fest about boys. “I always thought I was invisible to all of these people. But I guess I’m not.”

No, you are not, my sweet, sweet friend. You are not invisible. You are the exact opposite of invisible. You are so vibrant. So colorful. So whimsical and full of life. So beautiful, overflowing with the best intentions for the people who surround you. And I wish I could have expressed those things to you face to face over donuts and coffee, but my brain doesn’t think as fast as my heart, so instead of throwing all of that truth onto the table, I just made a face of empathy and agreed. Because I understand completely.

We used to be the invisible girls, for so long. Not in the sense that no one ever talked to us or they avoided us at all costs — we’ve never been outcasts, ostracized from our environments. But we were invisible in the way that tables and chairs are invisible in a restaurant, or in the way that Bibles full of Jesus are invisible in churches that are chasing the wrong things. We’re there, always there, but we were skipped over. They all knew we would always be there, so we were not given any special attention. Everyone wants a chair to sit in and a table to eat at, but no one ever asks where they came from or what their stories are.

In our case, being that sort of invisible wasn’t always a terrible, horrible thing. Even now, I still sometimes quite enjoy the position of being that girl that everyone knows of but can’t quite figure out all her layers and hues — a little touch of mystique never hurt anybody. The only bad parts are 1) sometimes I wish they would know more. I’m not afraid to share, just afraid of sharing at the wrong time or in the wrong place, or to the wrong person and 2) when it comes time to unveil ourselves, to fully show up and be present for the people who need us, finally less doubtful about being passed over nonchalantly, it can get a little scary.

For both me and her, erasing and backpedaling from this label of “invisible girl” has been a difficult but necessary journey. We’re not invisible — maybe we led ourselves to believe that way back when, but we are no longer the girls who sit at lunch tables, gossiping about the new kids and venting about our English homework. We are coming into our own in every sense of the phrase; discovering that we are, in fact, living, breathing human beings with a lot to bring to the table, despite what we may have told ourselves, or heard from the wrong people, in the past. She and I are similar in the way that the voices in our heads may be our worst enemy, and I’m sure you may be able to relate because this is a battle that countless people fight every day, even if they’re too proud or ashamed to admit it. Those voices can be silent killers, deadly in their poisonous accusations of inadequacy, shame, regret, doubt; poking you like a needle with stone-cold statements like “There must be something seriously wrong with me. There’s no way out of this state of mind. No use trying to climb out, because my mind has locked me in forever.”

Being an invisible sort of person is not the best place to be, since none of us can do much while believing ourselves to be hidden from the rest of the world, and when the role is tainted with these voices, it can be the worst sort of lonely, the worst sort of isolation. And she and I have experienced this, believing ourselves to be the kind of girls that are meant to be passed by with ease, not worth a second glance.

[[Because who could ever find the girl who is agreeable and sweet to be worth stopping for? The girls who are kind and observant but quiet. Those girls are boring. We aren’t the girls in the short skirts with the best flirtation skills and the thickest eyeliner, the ones you can find taking the town by storm on Saturday nights, full of outward confidence and appeal. Those are the only girls that are worth it; not the ones knee-deep in substance, the ones who spend their early mornings and late nights trying to figure out the world and all its inhabitants……right?]]

We are growing up. And we are learning that this is not true. We all — the invisible girls, the short-skirted girls, the girls who are known by so many faces, and the girls with their noses stuck in books — are worth that second glance, whether that glance is referring to the light inside of us, or the beauty that flows outward — because I can say with confidence now that I am beautiful. That’s not arrogance; it’s just a fact that comes from deep within me. And my dear, sweet friend? She is the sort of beauty that you are always on the look out to find, raising your camera as quickly as you can to take a photo and carry it with you always. But no lens could ever capture her full essence, all of her light and color and all of the other cliches that people don’t like to use but secretly want to.

We are realizing we’re no longer invisible. We are still learning and it’s quite a process, but so is baking a cake and so is photosynthesis and so is basically all of life, so it doesn’t really matter where we are. It just matters that we’re fully present and we’re moving forward; we’re not staying stagnant in this belief any longer. We are in the process of believing that being the girls with the quiet goals and dreams and aspirations and talents and passions, the girls exploding with kindness and grace and curiosity, the girls trying their best to show up and be strong, being those girls, is exactly who we want to be.

[[And that’s the thing about changing as you grow up: sometimes it takes a whole personality switch to better become the person you’re striving to be, and sometimes it takes only a little mindset adjustment because you have all the tools to be an amazing person already; you just have to be able to see all of the wonderful things that everyone else already sees in you, that your Creator has planned for you to have from the beginning.]]

Yesterday, I received a beautiful surprise in my inbox; someone had commented on my previous blog post with a link to their own blog. And there, I found an anonymous letter to me from someone from my past (still trying to figure out who wrote it; my brain says “It doesn’t matter who wrote it, just let it be a sweet anonymous gesture!” but my heart is saying “Must. Know. Who. It. Is.”). They told me I am beautiful, I am wonderful, and I’m loved more than I could ever know. I’ve read it about six times so far, and I still can’t believe someone would take the time to write something like this for me — but I’m working on changing that mindset; that’s something an invisible girl thinks. I’m no longer her. If someone writes me a letter, I want to accept it with the utmost gratitude and confidence.

In this letter, the author reminded me of a beautiful and simple truth: when we trust in ourselves to fully show up, when we believe ourselves to matter, when we confidently declare that we have something to offer this world besides just filling some empty space and borrowing some oxygen — when we stop believing we’re invisible –, we have suddenly and easily unlocked ourselves from the dungeons in our minds that those voices have locked us in for so long. And we can finally, finally, do what we were created to do — which is to love, love, love and go a little crazy on that love. And always be learning more about our surroundings and our people, and the people who aren’t “our people” — the people you never thought you would or could love in this world.

Love and the extension of grace can be quite unexpected, but you’ll find that they’ll never disappoint, never drop you or leave you hanging.

Trust in that, if nothing else. And if that’s the only thing you remember from this entire post, then my job is complete.

In case you haven’t already noticed I’m all about changing the world, one interaction at a time. So I invite you to do this with me.

And if you’re hiding in the shadow of your invisibility, step into the light. It’s bright out there, but that’s where you’ll be found.

–claire

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