Like a lot of boys when they are young, I was a huge fan of superheroes. Hearing about their stories, how they save the lives of so many people or even the entire universe, never became boring, but what intrigued me the most were their distinct superpowers. Oh how I wished I would possess one myself! Teleportation, commanding the natural forces or stopping the time. Whichever, I could spend days just imagining what I would do with one of those abilities. What I was not able to imagine though was that I will actually obtain one power in the future. It wasn’t given to me as a gift or is the result of a lab experiment gone wrong. I acquired and learned my power myself over time. Year after year, without even realizing, I got better and eventually I mastered it: The art of invisibility.
Growing up, I always stood out and got comments just for the way I look. My skin too pale, my hair too ginger, my body too skinny, my smile too dorky, … I can’t even say that I suffered a lot from those remarks back then, but it was enough to feel alienated, permanently different compared to everybody else, when all I wanted to do is belong, blend in, be normal. So that’s what I did: Trying to blend in, to avoid providing others with a target, to become invisible. Or at least the closest to invisible that I could achieve. For example, picking out clothes that cover as much as possible helped at that. I’d always wear shirts with long sleeves, even on hot summer days, high collars, rarely shorts. Veiling any kind of visible “flaws”.
At some point, I began to hate the idea of being photographed. I would always disappear when there’s a camera around or hide somewhere in the back row during group shots. Taking selfies or even posing for photos is something that I’d feel comfortable enough doing only years if not decades later. But the invisibility wasn’t limited to only a visual component. Any kind of limelight needed to be avoided. Meeting people was not interesting to me and unless I was really close to a person, I thought the best conversations were the very brief ones, making me answer in the most innocuous way and so that people won’t ask any further. I even became kind of known for being secretive, how ironic!
The skill of invisibility came with a price after all. What started out as a talent, turned out to be a curse as well. I was not in charge of my power, not able to control it anymore. Social behaviours became a reflex. When growing older, my goals and my point of view on certain things slowly evolved but my set of abilities was still the old one. I’m an introvert person and I’m happy that way, but everybody needs to be seen sometimes. Breaking free from successfully established patterns is a hard task though and so I mostly stayed unnoticed and unable to catch or keep interest, even if I wanted to.
Super basic conclusion, but I had to realize that, with all those rules and comfort zones that I created, with my ideas about what other people might think of me, I’m only constraining myself in what I allow myself to do, and that I need to let that go. That I need to be able to mute the “but what if”s, if I feel like it, in order to not waste opportunities. Sometimes this is simple, other times easier said than done and still there are occasions that create an urge in me to simply disappear. It’s an ongoing, maybe never-ending process and I consider myself lucky to have met people along the way who are ready to give me a push whenever it’s needed.