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Whenever somebody used to ask me what superhero power I wanted, I would always respond with invisibility. I wanted nothing more than to go completely overlooked in the world where I already seemed unnoticeable.
I felt so insignificant after years of being teased and ignored, hidden behind the shadows of my siblings, and I wanted a valid reason as to why I was being treated this way. Being invisible would have given me an excuse.
As a child, I was always the shy one. I was the quietest girl in the classroom, nobody ever realizing I was there.
At the time, I believed this to be a mighty feat. Never did I raise my hand to ask or answer a question; I kept to myself.
At home, I spent the majority of my time in my room, alone. I stayed extremely quiet and never made a mess. I tiptoed around the house, walking slowly up the stairs to not make any noise.
Anywhere I sat, I had my legs curled up, my knees to my chin, sleeping in a ball. My handwriting needed a magnifying glass to be read. My voice never rose above a whisper. I was always told to speak up, to repeat myself, to be louder.
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It went against all my natural instincts to raise my voice.
I took this need to be unseen to a great extreme. An eating disorder–anorexia–helped in my quest, literally eating away at me to make me near non-existent.
I made it my obsession to take up as little space as possible, trying to weigh nothing at all.
The more weight I lost, the less room I needed to exist, the less I required to function, and the less area my body took up. I was a mere ghost of a person. I became the hardest to find in photos, being covered by everyone else.
I used anorexia to fulfill my wish of invisibility, and it was doing its job. I was fading away, becoming more distant and disassociated from the world. I would be in a crowded room, but was so consumed with my obsessions over food and my body I would keep to myself, never uttering a word and rarely contributing to conversations.
While everybody was joking or having fun, I withdrew to be with the disordered part of myself. At meals, food was passed right by me as if I wasn’t even there. I stopped getting offered anything for it always got turned down by Disordered Jenna.
I isolated so much people stopped inviting me places or including me in events. They knew the girl who would come would not be Jenna. The anorexia succeeded in making her invisible, an afterthought.
When I entered treatment, it was excruciating to gain weight and begin taking up more space in the world.
It went against everything I wanted and it launched me out of my comfort zone. I could feel myself growing, and it left me in a panic. I cried myself to sleep on countless nights as I sat there measuring my changing self. It signified life, existence, and having a body–things I had fought to not have.
Feeling my clothes getting more snug, and knowing this meant I was becoming more visible, frightened me greatly. I would rip them off in hysterics. I did not want to feel them on my skin. I wanted to feel no trace of existence.
I stood in the shower, silently screaming with tears rolling down my face uncontrollably, as I looked at my transforming body. There was nothing I could do to make it stop. If I could have, I would have torn my skin off. It was making me seen, holding me in and growing as I took better care of myself. I despised it for the job it was doing.
Each passing day, Jenna was becoming more visible, and I hated every minute of it.
I wanted it to be over, but nobody was willing to let me stay invisible. They wanted me to fulfill my place in this world, to be the someone they knew I was meant to be on this earth. They were willing to do all it took to help me want it, until I wanted it too.
Today, I sit here feeling so blessed and grateful to those people for taking a stand against both Disordered Jenna and society, as being visible isn’t a concept the world embraces either.
We are encouraged to disappear. There is always a new product to give us less wrinkles, fewer brown spots, remove freckles, lose weight, have fewer curves.
But we lose more than those things in the process; we lose ourselves.
We sacrifice our identities. Being small and invisible is no way to live and is by no means an accomplishment. It is our birthright, our purpose, to take up space in this world.
We are worthy of being seen and we deserve to be acknowledged. We have every right to be heard and noticed.
Today, I embrace my space. I take up the entire bed, the whole couch. I take pride in being able to yell and share my opinions. I love going out in a crowd and introducing myself. I moved to a city where I know absolutely nobody because I knew I could succeed.
I blast my music, dance in the middle of the grocery store, and never concede to the fear of being seen. Because, to be honest, the whole “trying to be invisible” thing hadn’t worked for me. I am lucky enough to live in this world, and so I need to take advantage of it. I am here, this life is mine, this body is mine. I am worthy to be more than invisible.
So if you ask me today what would be my superhero power, I’d much rather fly.
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