I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
WWE superstar John Cena’s catchphrase for the past 10+ years has been “U Can’t See Me”, which for him means that you are beneath his level of performance and perseverance. However, in the shorthand as it is written on his merchandise (like the featured photo), the catchphrase could also be interpreted as “U Don’t See Me” – a reference to being invisible in the world.
I vaguely recall reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in high school. Or more appropriately, I should say I recall being assigned to read it. While I remember bits and pieces of the story, I remember the prologue and how he – the narrator – continually discussed and provided evidence for his perceived state of invisibility.
At the time, I didn’t get it. It almost sounded like some form of psychosis, especially when he discussed wiring an excessive number of light fixtures. It was as if he had to prove his own existence to himself. Quite honestly though, in those days, I really didn’t care much about literature or its analysis.
When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.
But now, I get it. I understand that feeling of being invisible – that no matter what you do, people don’t see you or they simply ignore your existence. It is a feeling that I have become familiar with over the past year, first stemming from work because of speaking my mind. Yet, I’ve noticed it most significantly in friendships and family that I am the one who is never seen or viewed as being important enough to maintain a connection with – until something is wrong. Then I’m seen as some devil in the dark… because, apparently, everything I do is wrong.
If I speak my mind, I’m reprimanded. If I disagree, I’m confrontational. If I ignore negative influences, I’m disrespectful. If I distance myself, I’m hateful. But if I stay quiet, I’m invisible and suffering in silence.