How many people have either wondered if they were, or wished they were, or maybe wished they were not, invisible, at one point or another?
That one girl or guy that doesn’t seem to know you exist; that car that pulls into your lane as though you weren’t in it; or that gathering where you’re standing alone in the middle of the room and no one seems to notice when you finally leave.
Or maybe you wished you were invisible when you spilled the tomato sauce down your clean white shirt, or when you drive by the roadside cop you didn’t notice until his lights came on behind you, or when all the looks you do get at the gathering tell you clearly that you’re not welcome.
I’ve been there. (inceptivus, caligo, deus patria ipse)I think most of us have, and we know it’s uncomfortable – even painful at times – but do we recognize the same situation when we are not the subject of it? Rarely, and when we do. . . well, if we care. . . then what do we do?
Well first of all, we’ve got to give a crap. That’s right. Give. A crap. Think about the other people for a change. If you know that guy or girl who doesn’t go to the parties and keeps to herself otherwise, It just might be that they were treated as invisible until they wished they were invisible, and then they figured out how to become invisible to others. Sadly, these are the same people who often figure out how to make themselves or others disappear at some point. And then everybody suddenly notices them. So it is certainly worth giving a crap.
Q. “But how do I show that I give a crap?” A. Small doses of attention.
Whatever you do, don’t suddenly flood the person with attention. The result from this mistake is the emotional equivalent of an ice cream brain freeze for the one not accustomed to attention. Too much too soon puts the body into shock and produces a fight or flight type of response. They will see the sudden onslaught as disingenuous and either spook and run or become angry and defensive. Instead, say hello and let them soak that in for a few minutes.
From there, make sure you continue giving the crap, considering they may approach you, either thinking you’re actually friendly, or to call your bluff. Don’t bother saying hello in the first place if you’re just going to reject them in front of your real friends. If they don’t approach, it’s probably because they’ve adopted what I call the David Bowie school of thought. (see they are cooler than you thought already) You don’t know the idea to which I’m referring?
Is it any wonder I reject you first? – Fame, D. Bowie, 1975
So another small dose may be in order. Again, avoid the infliction of the emotional brain freeze. An introduction to another quiet friend (if you have one) or inclusion in a conversation is great, but don’t expect them to engage yet. They need to see that that can trust you and your people before they talk much. Have patience. This introvert will undoubtedly test the patience of an extrovert, but believe me, being at the gathering in the first place is testing them as well.
Finally, although you will likely not see them open up until the crowd is gone, you just might have just found one of the most interesting, loyal friends you’ll ever have. But you have to give a crap to get there. And to stay there by the way, because the defenses will go back up quickly if you show you didn’t actually, or no longer, have the crap to give.
Good luck. Invisibles are some of the best friends, but they don’t become visible easily.
The number of orchid species nearly equals the number of bony fishes and is more than twice the number of bird species, and about four times the number of mammal species. Orchids are much like the invisibles I was writing about above, in the sense that people think they are less common than they are, and they are very satisfying if you’re willing to invest.