To Be Seen

By The Road To: The Road hidden Comments

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche

The feeling of not being seen is one of the most devastating, destructive and frightening experiences. Although I can find numerous advantages for transparency in general, when it comes to our own beings, feeling transparent is not something to covet. And yet, there are so many reasons for choosing not to be seen. The old sketch "How to Be Seen" from Monty Python's Flying Circus offers a hilarious, somewhat extreme interpretation of this notion. There are, of course, the obvious reasons such as being introverted, diffident, or vulnerable, but also other concerns such as a fear of tempting fate or fear of the envy of others. We are wont to think that by showing off we invite bad things. Humility, is I believe, a virtue, and it also safeguards us from becoming overconfident, too full of ourselves, too know-it-all; it protects us from behavior that leaves no room for uncertainty, for the spontaneous or the unpredictable, all of which encourage authentic and genuine creative expression. However, we still should not confuse humility with not being seen.

We all have, at least to some extent, the need to be seen. It can be traced back to the fundamental lessons learned in early childhood, when, as babies we develop the understanding of object permanence: the realization that an object continues to exist, even when it cannot directly be seen, heard, or touched. Very young children lack this awareness which is why babies under around six months look so startled when playing games like Peek-a-Boo. If the parent is hidden, then s/he doesn’t exist; likewise, when the baby's face is covered, then s/he is not there. At this tender age, it is the reflection through someone else's eyes that proves your existence to yourself. It is through the visual stimulation of playing the game that the brain cell connections develop.

As adults, we are bothered less by the question of existence but more by the question of presence: being noticed, feeling conspicuous, and making an impact. The need to be seen by others dictates our behavior, and negative results can lead to frustration, aggravation, and even aggression. Not being seen by your closest environment, your family and friends, is obviously painful. But the worst and, in my opinion, the crux of it all, is not being seen by your own self.

Being able to see myself means I am aware of my needs and thus I can stand up for what I believe in. It means I have cultivated resilience and am therefore not afraid of risk, failure, or rejection. I have no need to impress others or to be nice just for the sake of being liked. I am not perfect nor do I embrace perfectionism. I understand that no matter what I know there is always someone who knows better, no matter what I learn there is someone else who  studies better than me; no matter what I do or think, there is always someone who does it better or has a greater idea than me. And yet, it is the combination of me being me: knowing, learning, thinking, doing, innovating and dreaming that will prevail and allow my being to be present.

In other words, to be seen is an existential need to show what you've got. It is about not being afraid to shine if that is what it takes for something from your inner being to be reflected somewhere and somehow to the outside. And until such time as you reach that place of self-expression, your soul will find no rest. If what you have to show is a great smile, then social networks are full of these nowadays. There seem to be endless opportunities and options for self-reflection: be it science, innovation, fashion, food, sport, thoughts or ideas. Nothing is too superficial, shallow or unworthy as long it is an authentic representation of yourself.

For me, to be seen is to be able to project my inner being to the outside in a way that is meaningful based on my own set of values. I don't want to be seen for how I look or for how I dress, but rather for how I think and for what I do, and for how that impacts my external being.

As for Innovation, the primary reason for starting my journey: in order for innovation to be seen, you need to go from being the reader of the map to being its creator; the creator of something new, all tracks and trails as yet unknown. Otherwise, however great your idea, there will always be someone who read the same map and has seen the trails ahead of you. Courage and far-reaching vision are needed to create reality. And to create reality you need to start somewhere, almost anywhere, and hope for the best.

This, I guess, is where I am now, starting somewhere, fingers crossed, praying for some luck and hoping for the best.

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