Invisibility. It’s magical!
I’ve mastered the art of invisibility! And it’s verrrrrry useful in life, as you become a fly on the wall, a speck of dust, or a passing whisper. When you need to be.
Technically, I don’t think I qualify as a “little person,” though I certainly qualify as little, with the positives far outweighing the negatives – and I don’t just mean more leg room in coach.
No makeup, old glasses, nondescript clothes – and no one notices me. Anywhere. Certainly not in a crowd, nor on the street. It’s wonderful. I go where I please and pass unremarked.
As a writer, that’s pretty cool. I can sit, listen, observe, and scribble notes. I’m happily invisible.
In the classroom
When my boys were in elementary school, not only would teachers let me sit in class to observe, but the kids were comfortable with me. I was their size. I fit in the diminutive desks!
When volunteering in class, I usually ended up on the floor with them – playing games or making art. Even though my kids are teenagers, I still enjoy time with little ones, inside their world, and the wonder they discover in almost everything.
I won’t deny that my 5′ stature was problematic in the business world. First off, there was the issue of big chair, little legs. Hard to impress at an interview when you’re dangling. Remember the famous comedy sketch with Lily Tomlin?
Ain’t life grand? Opportunities to develop creative problem-solving skills! I soon learned to sit at the front edge of the chair, lean forward, and hope I didn’t have to hold that less-than-comfy posture for too long. As for the podium? I step off and walk into the audience, which encourages participation, and makes for a more interactive presentation.
Shhhhh… listen before you speak. And think twice.
Discretion is especially important around kids. Respect their privacy, and you offer a model for appropriate boundaries and behavior. When they’re tweens or teens, we must keep a watchful eye and attentive ear. It’s part of the job. But it doesn’t mean getting in their bubble, unless you have cause.
I may have a fly on the wall advantage due to stature, but even a parent who’s 6′ tall can exercise discretion with kids. That means not asking embarrassing questions when others are around. (But it doesn’t mean not asking, when you’re in private.)
In a lot of ways, the older they get, the more we need to take a back seat – when we’re around them, anyway. Our job is to let them shine; it’s critical to their developing sense of self.
Older and wiser
There are a whole lot of ways to be overlooked in our culture, and not by choice. As I’ve gotten older, there’s no doubt that I’m invisible more often. We start to “gray out” as we age – especially women. But that’s a topic for another discussion. Let’s just say, when I choose to be noticed – as a professional, a parent, or a woman – I am.
In the meantime, I adore morphing into that fly on the wall, a stealthy self from which to investigate without intruding. And I’m fortunate enough to morph back into an adult, when required.
One interesting cultural note: authors and filmmakers have provided numerous interpretations of the invisible man, but not the invisible woman.
Is it because invisible woman is an oxymoron, or a “given?”