I made myself invisible.
And I was.
Everywhere I looked I saw proof of that.
Proof that I was a mousy younger sister of someone beautiful, that people noticed. Proof that by her side I disappeared. Proof that no one found me attractive and that I would never be loved. Proof that I was doing everything wrong. Proof that how I walked, ate, swallowed, even breathed was annoying to someone around me, so I must be horrible to be around. I took looks of disgust and counted them as evidence that I was invisible, or at least should be.
Harsh, I know.
When we seek out proof of a story we’ve created for ourselves (or accepted), we can find it. Interpreting every bit of criticism or negativity as proof of that story we wrote into our bones.
I believed those things and consistently saw the proof of them.
It took me a long time (as in decades) to realize that if I could find proof of that, I could find proof of the opposite.
That I could be visible, seen, even feel beautiful.
That the story I believed, that paralyzing insecurity, it could be re-written.
It was a choice and at any moment I could begin a practice of seeing and creating a new story.
So I did.
Day by day.
One of the most profound ways I made this choice was turning the camera on myself. When I did that I created a space where only I was in control of the way I see myself. Where there was room for what was quirky about me, where there was room for all of my identity. Where there was room to see my body as beautiful in its curves, all 200+ pounds of it.
I became the narrator of my own story.
I just started to let myself be seen, by me.
That led to feeling seen by others.
I was no longer invisible and now I had reclaimed personal power over how I was to be seen.
I just finally started to see the proof in myself. In the mirror, through the lens.
I felt like I had to remove the armor of invisibility. Bit by bit I’m removing myself from under it and letting myself be seen for who I truly am.
It is a process though, becoming visible again. My instinct is to still walk down the street head held low. I’m learning to lift it up, look people in the eye, to let myself be seen.
It is still hard work. I still don’t have proof that I will find love and be loved,but I’ve learned along the way that if I want proof of that too, I can find it.
I’m learning after all this time that I am enough.
I was always enough.
That the proof of that was always there for me to see,
I just had to make the choice to see it.
Vivienne McMaster is a photographer with a big heart and a spirit of playfulness. She is part whimsical, part urban, and definitely quirky. She teaches a wide variety of photography and video based e-courses and believes that self-portraiture and creative exploration can save our lives. She shares colorful visual stories over at her website.