Coming into the Light: A Shot at Opacity, by Mehnaz Thawer
All my life, I’ve been invisible to some degree. For those that already know me, you’ll know I have a penchant for complete candour, and you can hear my rambunctious ramblings from a mile away. This isn’t what I’m talking about.
Much like many introverts, I take a liking to “behind the scenes” types of work. I used to be in a choir and subsequently, a stage manager, a communications manager and all kinds of managerial posts that required that I be behind the scenes. Given that these were supposed to be fun endeavours, it was always a lot of work. When I was thanked on stage – as often is the case when you have a big blow-out-end-of-the-year concert – I would have to come onto the stage, under a spotlight, which would cause me to blush (given my naturally dark skin-tone, you can imagine this might have been quite the feat)!
It’s not so much that I didn’t want my work recognized, and that I didn’t appreciate a thank you here and there; it’s just that I worked really hard to appear invisible when I could. Call it a natural aversion to attention or what have you, but I have to say, after a while, it started to get old.
Recently, I spoke to a woman who pointed out that I very much liked being alone, and being recognized meant taking responsibility for myself – something I appear not to be completely comfortable with.
I got to thinking about how this connected to my life. I noticed that I tended to bury myself in work until nobody could really find me. I make excuses for my invisibility (and not strangely, I know a lot of people who do).
While being okay with your invisibility is fine (we’re not spotlight-mongers), we tend to miss out on opportunities that really benefit us, when people recognize who we are and what we do.
As lame as it sounds, my concerted effort to walk into the light is going to be by joining something – for fun! It has to be something where I’m not working, where I can use my skills and my language to network, and to be grateful for praise and attention.
If you’re anything like me, and spend your life hanging out “behind the scenes”, make an effort to do something where you are forced into the light. Might sound like it’s on the lighter side of being too XYZ, but you’ll be surprised how difficult it is.
At the risk of sounding frivolous, be opaque, so that people don’t look through you, so that they remember to recognize you properly for your contributions, your humour, your brief moments of endearing stridency.
What have you done lately to come out into the spotlight?
Mehnaz is a professional writer in Vancouver and the owner of “Speak Softly and Carry a Red Pen”.