Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Invisible Girl

Believe it or not....

I was a shy child. Painfully shy, actually. I often cried when someone would ask me my name. I couldn't stand to even be looked at. For my kindergarten graduation ceremony, we were paired up to learn a square dance we then had to perform for our parents. I never missed a beat, but I danced with my partner one-armed. The other one covered my face for the entire number.

I avoided cameras like the plague (still do) and refused to smile if I lost the battle to escape this horrid fate. All my earliest pictures are of me frowning, scowling, or pouting. I spent a lot of time hiding behind my mom's legs hoping that I wouldn't be noticed. I wanted to disappear. I wanted nothing more than to become the invisible girl.

I spoke so seldom throughout school that even my closest friends couldn't recognize my voice without seeing me use it. I had been a late talker, of course, saying nearly nothing until I was about three. My mom used to sing a little song to me called "Little Red Caboose". It was my absolute favorite song, and I would ask her to sing it over and over and over again. She tried repeatedly to get me to sing it myself, but I stubbornly refused. I was lovingly obliged again and again until this one day. My mom went to investigate a strange small sound coming from the bedroom. It was a tiny voice she didn't recognize, and it was singing...

"Little red caboose chug chug chug
Little red caboose
Here comes the train train train train.
Smoke stack on its back back back back
Coming down the track track track track
Little red caboose chug chug chug chug. WOO WOO!

I was outed, yet in spite of much cajoling and encouragement, my mother didn't hear me sing again until I was 14 years old. Not that it didn't happen. It did, but I was the invisible girl. No one listens for an invisible girl. I was okay with this for years. Most of my life, actually, and in all aspects of my life too. Until I suddenly wasn't.

It was bound to happen. I mean, look at what I've dedicated my life to! Over the years, I've performed as a singer, a pianist, a dancer, an actor. If this isn't in your face work, well I don't what is. Being ignored when your life is artistry-- what an epic fail. I even spill my heart out on the big bad scary interwebs from time to time. If a blogger blogs in the woods will anyone read it?

These most recent few years I've explored more of the mentoring side of my abilities-- teaching, directing, nurturing others attempting to coax out the courage and gifts of talented people. Watching people "get it" and become successful artists...I think that was when I started realizing I actually have things to offer, that I know what I'm talking about--I am actually very good at what I do, dang it, and I am enormously tired of being ignored.

Recently, I've tried to step out. I've tried to get a handle on things and stand up for myself. Problem is, I've been that way for way too long. I've trained the world to stand on my face. No one really sees me now, and it's all my fault. I've been too complacent, too accommodating, too self-abasing. I can yell and scream and dance and wave my arms, but you can't see invisible. You won't hear what you don't listen for. You miss what's right in front of you.

Guess what--there's a LOT in front of you. After 35 long years, y'all, I am finally done. Let this be a lesson to you. And a warning. Let your light so shine, peoples. Oh, and you might wanna get out your sunglasses.

One of us is about to blind.