A musically interactive thought essay on invisibility, authenticity, drama, and why he might not actually belong with you. Based roughly on my collegiate era. *Addressed to women but may be applicable to men. For the best reading experience, save links and songs for the end.
Part I: Lyrically Defined
I did not know such a thing was possible, but the notoriously dreaded DTR, just got worse. Flustered, at my mental blank space and inability to communicate, I lost footing on the trail, flew airborne and landed my new skinny jeans, directly into the dark, December mud. As I sat there, hidden by the ground, I realized the moment of incoordination and camouflage, illustrated my emotional state perfectly. “Oh get it now,” I began as I tucked my ballet flats back under me. “I feel, exactly like Taylor Swift in the You Belong With Me music video skit!” He raised a perplexed eyebrow. “Oh come-on,” I said, in a rare moment of cheeky sarcastic weakness. “You listen to her in secret. Anyway. I’m that girl who knows all your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams and fears… the one who understands you, been here all along…. but you just can’t you SEE-ee…” My melodious monolog faded out as I transitioned to serious, concise mode.
“What I’m trying to say, is–sometimes, I wonder if have a burlap sack over my head, because I feel like I’m sort of an invisible sidekick. And that no matter what I do, or say, that you never really see me.”
The Invisibility Complex
In that moment I finally described, out loud even, a phenomenon I knew all too well. Feeling unseen, or unheard is a silent systemic ache or an oft undiagnosed asymptomatic pain. In my case, I tiptoed through the first few years of college with what I call, an “invisibility complex.” I believed myself an insignificant person, postured my presence accordingly, and not surprisingly, manifestations appeared everywhere. Students plowed into me at the cafeteria because they “didn’t see” me. My speedy whispered conversational contributions stopped short, because friends “couldn’t hear” me. Relationships halted because of the guys unusual red flag that he kept “forgetting about” me. I didn’t stay in the shadows forever, but for a long time, I lived with a belief that I could manufacture value, or earn worthiness– if I hustled for it
The Multicolored Personality Peacoat
Every human enters the world with a “dream and personality coat,” woven with threads of God given gifts, quirks, and talents to steward. I consider the average extrovert akin to a bubbly and outgoing Joseph of the Bible. Their personality shines like a sequined dreamy tunic with multiple aspects of self-stripes on a visible display for public understanding. Introverts, on the other hand, possess the same varied spectrum of colors, but they wear the dream coat inside out. Processing the world internally before sharing discoveries, their hearts resemble a well-guarded castle or labyrinthine maze. If the colors stay hidden for an extended time, the risk of the invisibility complex runs high.
Regardless of whether you sport the traditional tunic or the reversible personality peacoat, not EVERYONE will see the color wheel of your persona; that is okay, and even expected. However, when debating about who you belong with, there is one key question we conveniently forget to ask.
Can this person see you? Beyond your physical self too, do they see who you are? That answer is important. Because what a person sees is not a mere accident. What we see reveals a part of our character.
Every day the world exposes us to thousands of visual, auditory and tactile stimuli, only a fraction of which will register in our conscious attention. How then do we determine what we see? The desires and priorities of our hearts will tell our eyes what to see, our ears what to hear, and our minds what to remember.
Picture walking into a house with three friends. The interior designer will notice the color scheme; the new mom spots the baby pictures; the CrossFit guy catches protein powder label; my eyes beeline to the bookshelf. These examples may sound trivial, but the eye to heart connection can serve as a brutally honest indicator of where one’s eyes are actually fixed. For example: If a guy claims he’s on the hunt for a “holy helpmate suitable,” but deep down he seeks more of Shakira holy–hips don’t lie type of gal– his heart won’t lie to his eyes. Likewise, ladies, if you pretend to search for an equally yoked Christian guy, but secretly you pine for an exquisitely yoked Christian Grey, you will end up in the gray area.
Part II: Herd Mentality
Now, keeping in mind the significance behind what we see, consider these 3 questions before arriving at any conclusions about belonging together.
1) Are you Falling for a “Drama Sheep?”
There’s a reason why the “psychological thriller” genre captivates the cinemas and bookstores alike, or why video games like “Call of Duty” gross in the billions. The narrative of the human experience is a battle between good and evil, thus making the desire to take part in an epic adventure, a natural, and even necessary part of being alive. Unfortunately, many people misuse the desire by transforming into “drama sheep” and flocking to emotionally demanding romantic partners. Drama keeps its victims prey with complicated puzzles of mystery and a high dosage of intoxicating emotion. Ironically, after riding a hot&cold roller coaster with the energy vampire, the drama sheep now sits on life’s sidelines incapacitated to fight the epic battle they once craved.
2) Are you Playing the “Drama Shepherd?”
By convincing yourself you know where someone else belongs, it’s tempting to step in and play the “drama sheep shepherd.” As though in a great act of (false) humility and heroism, you can herd this guy away from drama queens and straight to you–the innocent princess of sanity and good cheer. But stop. This Red flag is treacherous trouble and bound to breed bad blood. Guaranteed, the fastest road to the drama sheep farm is by acting as a drama shepherd first. It’s not your role to play. In this case, let Jesus, or your pastor, be the good shepherd.
3) Is it Time to Say “Bye-Bye Blind sheep?”
Over the last couple years, several of my female friends have shared distress about a particular situation: Her man of interest talks about the woman of his dreams (painfully in front of her), with a list of qualities that matches her in an uncanny way, yet he appears blind to who is in front of him. The frustration is like a steady series of indirect rejection blows; I understand as I’ve walked that road a couple times before. However, now, I don’t consider those types of situations even worthy of analysis. Because the reality is simple.
If he cannot see you—or is not at least interested in turning your personality peacoat inside out to try to see your colors–he does. not. belong. with you. Blindness is too feeble a platform to launch into a life long journey.
The Crossroads of Real and Fake
When I was about twenty-two, someone suggested I improve my dating “game” by becoming “less nerdy, and less quirky.” Naturally, because feigning dull captures the interests of God’s best gentlemen. Well, not exactly. Actually, that might be some of the worst advice I have ever heard. One reason being, self-denial of the liberty to delight in the wildly wonderful world of words (and wit within reason), would render me a living oxymoron: a true fake. ‘Fake’ and ‘unknown’ sound like haunted, lonely places to spend forever and always.
But still, feeling invisible is unpleasant, and typically it leads to a temptation to engage in one of two coping strategies. The first is hiding. But the other–a technique even more covert than hiding–is performing your way to the center of attention for acceptance. Performing is the wolf is sheep’s clothing. It appears harmless, works in the short term, and honestly, it’s not that hard. The fake self is easy. Being easy is easy. Showing up with integrity is a more challenging battle, but in the long run, always the better choice.
The lucky one who belongs with you, must be a person who CAN SEE you. And not because you sang a slightly whiney back porch ballad to convince him. But because with eyes open, he noticed. His eyes, mind, and heart arrived in agreement that he found what he sought, knew what he found, and loved what he saw. If BOTH of [you] see, and share a matching medley of life visions, in multiple senses of the word, then–if I may be so fearless as to speak now (my opinion)– by all means, let the sparks fly. Begin a new romantic and enchanted fairy tale love story that’s sweeter than fiction, where all of your wildest dreams come true as you ride a white horse, (or maybe even a dark horse) into the starlight in style! 😉
Love and Lighthouses
Everyone wants to be loved. But in order to be loved, we have to be known. And in order to be known, we must also be seen. Allowing ourselves to be seen, while also learning to see deeply into others, is a process developed over time.
In the meantime, imitate the lighthouse: it neither hides its light nor carelessly throws itself in front of all the buoys and boats. A lighthouse just beams. Eventually, people see it. Shakira seekers and flickering flings between the deceived and the drama sheep are, unfortunately, probably here to stay. But don’t despair. Breathe, shake it off and remember: you already have access to a fire. Your authenticity in Christ is most brilliant flame you could ever burn. Kindle it.