“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” – Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There
Often in life, we feel invisible, that we don’t matter. People carelessly say things that reduce us down to toy size – like when Alice eats the wrong mushroom and immediately goes from human size to small enough to fit through a key hole.
A moment like that happened to me the other day. With one careless comment, someone totally wrote off my value and contributions to a project. It wasn’t intentional on her part, I know. But that doesn’t diminish the sting of her words. They still made me feel small and unimportant.
In that moment, I had the choice – dwell in it or do something that would help bring me back to reality; something to remind myself that her words were not true.
Okay, full disclosure, maybe I didn’t really understand that in the moment. Maybe I let myself believe her words in THAT moment. Maybe I believed her words for a few moments longer than I should have.
Eventually, I decided it was up to me to pull myself out of my imposed pity-party and remind myself that her words weren’t true. Do something to remind myself that I’m not small. To remind myself that I’m not invisible. To remind myself that the things I do do have a positive impact. At least on those in my small corner of the world.
So I called my best friend, who lives way too far away. Chatted with my (honorary) nephew, who basically just makes sounds only a dolphin can understand. But he is pretty darn happy about life and the sounds he makes. And there’s probably a lesson there, too. But that’s for another day. And another story.
The reality is – I am lucky to have people I can call when I experience moments of invisibility and insecurity. I am lucky enough to say that it takes more than one hand to count the different people I can call to help me pack my pity-party away in the gold box it too often escapes from.
But not everyone has a support network. There are SO MANY strong, capable, wonderful people who are battling life alone. So when they hear these words and feel small or invisible, they have no one to turn to. No one to remind them of their value.
And while they may be resilient (likely more resilient than me!), constantly hearing words that chip away at a persons value eventually find a home in the shadowy corners of the mind. And, inevitably, a person starts to believe them – when it becomes loudest voice they hear on repeat.
While Alice’s size helped her get through the locked door, her toy sized stature didn’t serve her well for the long run. She spent her time avoiding being stepped on verses continuing on her journey, moving forward.
For the last four years, I’ve had the honor of serving amazing mothers who find the strength to push forward despite the challenges life presents. They somehow find the strength to ignore the voice in their heads and refuse to be invisible, despite the size they feel that day or their absence of a support system.
Ironically, it’s these women who have taught me the greatest lessons of gratitude and strength. When the world said to them, you’re small and invisible, they stand strong and say, “You’re wrong, and I will show you the great things can come from those you underestimate.”
And every day, these moms show up. They show up for their jobs. For their children. For their friends. For the children of their friends. And, somehow, they find time to show up for the classes + opportunities that help them grow. And just like Alice and the elixir that helped her grow tall enough to defeat the Queen Of Hearts, these women also grow to defeat the obstacles that once held them back.
So the next time time you feel invisible, or at least small enough to fit through a key hole, think of these women. Remember the obstacles they have overcome. They have overcome homelessness and all the other scary curve balls life can throw. Yet, they still stand strong in their value to the world.
And while I only get the honor to spend one day a year with them, the impact they have on my lasts for years to come. I hope their story has the same impact on you as well.
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