Words by Gemma Casimsiman
It’s tiring to pretend.
I have to pretend it’s okay to be ignored. It’s fine if my words fall on deaf ears. It’s fine if people don’t notice what I do, whether it’s for them or for anybody. It wasn’t always like this, though. I didn’t use to worry about grabbing anyone’s attention.
Backtracking to grade school, I was known for many things—teacher’s pet, “feeling close”, and even got called germs and dirt nicknames due to my name and color. That’s how I learned to keep my mouth shut. Up until high school, I blended into the crowd, my presence going unnoticed. Even the teachers won’t notice my absence. There was one incident where my math teacher asked why I didn’t submit my homework, but that was because I was confined in the hospital for a week. Nobody noticed I was gone.
My friends then delighted in my absence. Told me they learned independence during my confinement all the while asking me to buy them burgers from the school canteen. Yet, as years passed, I tried so hard to gain back the attention I needed.
Call me an attention-seeker all you want, but I was getting lonely. I thought being invisible was a good thing. For a while, I was proud of what I had become. I’d tell people it’s one of the reasons why I can easily make my way past the bustling streets of Divisoria. I didn’t mind being unnoticed, as long as the attention wasn’t on me. Well, that was the case, until I had enough.
My mom would get mad if I’d interrupt her during a conversation. She’ll ask me, “Are you asking for attention?” The safe answer was no, but I wanted to say yes. I realized I was in a bad position. It came to the point where I’d take any title I was given, whether it was being this person’s friend or for doing something embarrassing mid-year.
Then, I had an idea. If I couldn’t get back the attention by being me, maybe I could gain that by being someone else. In church, there was this one group of girls everybody loved. So, I tried being like them. I did what they did, dressed how they dressed. When I dressed like myself, my insecurity would get the best of me.
When that didn’t work, I rose to the peak of my self-crisis. Negativity ate me up, frustrations wrapping my head—I knew I had to cry for help. I’d tell my mom and my friends I wasn’t okay, but I was either ignored or told I was the problem. I, then, turned to social media, directly tweeting my problems away. I asked for help, but nobody came.
My being invisible was too powerful. My presence was null, my cries fell on nobody. I would cry myself to sleep, praying for someone to feel my emotions.
So, I realized, if nobody can see me, I’d make them.
At this point, you’d probably ask, “Did you conquer the problem?” My answer would be no because, up until now, I’m still trying to overcome that. On my own. Every day. One step at a time. You can’t hear me? I’ll yell. You can’t see me? I’ll stand in your way. If I’m too invisible for them to see, I’ll roll around in the dirt for you to at least see a figure.
Am I an attention seeker? No. I’m an invisible girl shaping myself to be known, not by how can people see me but by how I can see me.