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The invisibility factor

Feeling as if you don't exist is just as bad as being acknowledged but teased.
Feeling as if you don't exist is just as bad as being acknowledged but teased.
federico stevanin /

She's right there in the middle of the crowd.  An active participant in the midst of her peers.  She's smiling and laughing on cue just like them.  Leaning in, moving with the crowd, and for all intents and purposes mingling.... 

Look closer however.  Is she struggling to stay face to face with some of them, while being inadvertently pushed to the outskirts of the crowd?  As she painstakingly makes her way back towards them, is anyone actually making eye contact with her or engaging her personally in the conversation?

This type of situation is a teenage phenomenon.  Go to the Galloway Township Middle School for the day or attend a Renegades football game.  Watch the crowds of teenagers as they socialize.  You're sure to see at least one girl who has the invisibility factor.

She's there with the crowd.  No one is teasing her or outwardly treating her badly, but in truth no one is paying any attention to her either.  It's as if they simply don't see her.  She is invisible to them.

Most adults fortunately have learned the social graces to include a person such as this into their conversation.  The younger set, however, is primarily concerned with themselves and hasn't learned to clue into the feelings of others.  In some ways being treated as invisible can be worse than being teased.  If no one is acknowledging your existence, self worth comes into question and self-esteem is diminished. 

As the mentors, mothers, older siblings, and friends of these younger girls it is our obligation to point out this behavior and teach them proper politeness.  To sit back and observe without offering a solution is a part of the problem.  No one should be made to feel as if they do not matter or that their existence is insignificant. 

Empathy and compassion are characteristics that take a backseat in some teenage girls' lives.  This future generation can only benefit by reminders of what true friendship and kindness should be.  Teenage angst is unavoidable, but it is also the perfect time to learn how actions affect others in the grand scheme of things.  Taking the time to intervene will help the average girl be more aware, the invisible girl be more confident, and the mean girl be more compassionate.  It's a win-win situation!

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  • christian 5 years ago

    It happens to lots of boys too. The problem is that when attention and/or friendship is offered to these 'invisible' kids they usually reject the caring person as being undesirable. Love to see you address that set of circumstances!

  • KE 5 years ago

    Very powerful article. Social structure in middle and high school can be brutal. I like how you mention eye contact, this is important even for adults.

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