Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Pain of Invisibility

I can’t even recall how the conversation started.

I think she had been complaining about her youngest sister, upset that the little one got to sleep with her Dad by simply crawling into bed with him. The truth being, she was sometimes afraid of being on her own, and was jealous of her youngest sister.

She couldn’t understand why her four year old sister had everything she needed while she, at nine and a half, still had to battle to get noticed across the noise.

I tried to explain:

“You are all different people and you will succeed in the world differently,” I said.

“Your youngest sister walks into a room and immediately fills it. She is bright and bubbly and is happy pushing herself forward into situations other people would feel scared about. It is as though she fills the room with little explosions of glitter and noise and song and people can’t help but notice. They draw energy from her but it can be wild and unsettling for some. Some people back away from her or are put off by her energy, but underneath it all, she has a heart of gold and has a caring soul. It’s just that it comes wrapped in a Mardi Gras. She will impact a lot of people, especially those who are drawn to her energy and vitality.”

She nodded, silent.

“Your middle sister, on the other hand is less obvious and people underestimate her. You have to scratch beneath the surface to see her true value – in other words, you need to take time and make effort. The way she will impact the world is neither immediate nor obvious, but for those who persist, she will be immensely powerful and influential.’

I stroked the hair off her forehead. It was late, well past both our bedtimes, but I could see she was needing to talk, to make sense of her day.

“You, on the other hand, carry your golden heart in your hands, offered in front on you. You will enter the room and be silent. You won’t draw attention to yourself, you will simply hold your heart up in front of you. Many people won’t notice you or see you. But there will be special people who feel you, who can sense you through the crowded room and be drawn to you. You will make a powerful connection to the world, especially through these special people who are like you, and notice you and seek you out.”

It was at this point that I noticed the tears slipping down her cheek. She simply nodded quickly, as if by agreeing with what I said, would make it come true.

In a room full of people, my eldest can be the last one noticed. Her middle sister is also quiet and often unseen – the difference being that my middle doesn’t mind and she prefers her own company.

When you want to be noticed, and aren’t, that is when it begins to hurt.

“I have no doubt that you will all be incredibly successful in your lives,” I continued. “It’s just that you have such different ways of interacting with the world. So don’t judge yourself by your sisters’ benchmarks and by what – and how – they achieve things.”

“You are totally unique and so your impact will be felt differently, but I have no doubt it will be incredible.”

With a little nod, she smiled. I kissed her on her forehead and said goodnight. She was invisible no longer.


  1. Beautiful words Shan that capture and love the different personalities of your girls xx

  2. Absolutely incredible to be able to distinguish personalities and their place in this world. Amazing. I hope I can talk to my girls like this one day.

  3. This was really wonderful and I admire how you described your daughters. It brought tears to my eyea as it made me think of my three boys. Beautifully written.

  4. What loving and empowering words. I'm glad you are raising smart, fearless and kind young women.


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