"I don't exist when you don't see me
I don't exist when you're not here
What the eye don't see won't break the heart
You can make believe when we're apart
But when you leave I disappear
When you don't see me."
One of my favorite songs is The Sisters of Mercy's 'When You Don't See Me'. If I had heard it when I was a teen, it would have probably been my theme song.
I have been having an e-mail discussion with one of my goth friends about what is basically "social anxiety", in which we both confessed to having horrible anxiety after committing to attending something like a meetup, club or other public event, and we waffle back and forth right up until the last minute about whether to go or not. What shocked me about this is that she is the last person I would have thought would have this problem; she is extremely friendly and outgoing, but she told me that she has to "warm up" to someone before she is really comfortable with them. We are so alike in this respect that it's not funny.
I've always been pretty much of a loner. As an only child, I grew up with a few other kids on the block to play with occasionally, but mostly I was on my own. Being a year younger than the other kids in my grade, I spent my elementary school years mostly on the outside of the social circles. I always had at least one real friend (versus just acquaintances) each year, but I spent the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in three different schools, so I had to make ALL new acquaintances/friends in both 4th and 5th grades. I always felt out of sync with everyone else, and buried myself in books that surrounded me with imaginary people whom I felt more comfortable with than I did with real ones. When I wasn't with my own friends, I actually did feel invisible.
I lucked out in 7th grade, when I met the three other girls who would be my cronies all the way through high school. But that ended at graduation, when three of us went to college in three different cities, and the fourth disappeared into oblivion. After two years of college (where I found a boyfriend but no regular friends), I got my AA degree and went to work, which further distanced me from my two other friends, who were still getting their bachelor's degrees and living on campus. All the women I worked with were much older (I was only 19) and either married or divorced, so even work wasn't a place where I met people I could relate to.
After high school, I didn't have a circle of friends, or even a best friend, until I started taking belly dance classes. That's also when I discovered my alter ego, "Lucresha the Bellydancer". When I was in costume, I was a totally different person. A few years later, I discovered my second alter ego, "Lucretia the Mary Kay Rep". They kept me going through my 20s, 30s and into my 40s, until I stopped dancing professionally because I no longer had a group to dance with or a place to teach or practice, and became too busy with school and work and my new marriage to keep selling Mary Kay. Eventually my MK and dance friends drifted away, and there was no one at work or school whom I really connected with on a personal level. While we did belong to a couple of Renaissance Faire group and went to faires regularly, I frequently felt invisible there as well, especially after the faire closed for the day and we were all ourselves again for the evening.
This may sound somewhat like a sob story, but it really isn't. I honestly have never felt a need for lots of friends, but I did get tired of having almost no one to talk to except my husband and son. However, I also realized that most of the friends I'd had over the years were only friends because we happened to be doing the same things at the same time in the same place; we weren't friends because we actually connected with each other in a personal way (except for Debbie, who is still a friend today). When you REALLY need to talk to someone at 2am, it's nice to know there's someone who actually won't mind if you call.
I have made quite a few pagan friends in an online group I've been part of for years, but the problem there is distance. None of us live in the same state, and two live in other countries! It's hard to be close to someone when you never actually see them, and when most of your conversations are group-oriented, anyway.
When I joined the goth meetup group, this changed considerably. I actually connected closely with three different people almost at once. I was a bit leery at first about throwing myself wholeheartedly into it, just in case it didn't last, but that hasn't happened. Now I feel like I have real friends who understand me and are okay with my weirdness. I still need my space, but that's not ALL I have anymore. And while I still feel invisible in certain places and with certain people, it's not as bad as it used to be, and it doesn't bother me nearly as much.
Have you ever felt invisible? How did/do you deal with it?