It's had a huge effect on me. It makes a bigger difference than you can even imagine most of the time, to everyone you know. How much do you pay attention to people?
My personality has been shaped in a way that I'm coming to hate because of the bad situation I've been in for so long. I've settled for people who don't really look at me. Some barely look beyond themselves most of the time. I didn't know that there were any better options for me, and had accepted the false reality that "I'm an uninteresting person. Of course no one cares much about what I have to say. It's natural that I'm going to be talked over a lot. No surprise that people will interrupt me and not even notice." I started to give up. I didn't even notice until I started spending time with other people...When someone asked me what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, I never had an answer. I couldn't make decisions even that basic. When a newer friend stopped talking about himself and asked me to share something about me, I was incapable. I had been paralyzed by this, this crushed self-esteem, this shattered self-confidence. Or are those even the right words? I don't think I ever developed those things very well in the first place. But they were still being suffocated.
I actually learned to use invisibility to my advantage. If the conversation ever wandered to something about me that I didn't want to discuss, I could deflect the topic with next to no effort. If there was something about me that I wanted to keep private, I didn't have to worry about anyone around me noticing, and it took minimal effort to hide. (I've seen others use similar tactics. I know people who let others underestimate them so they can watch from the corners.) It shouldn't be so easy to be underestimated.
Notice that I've been using the past tense? I'm working to overcome these things now. I've had a couple of people come along who helped me begin to see this problem. One of them is making a point to value me in the way he feels I deserve, paying attention to the things I say and do all the time, as I do for him. I can't tell you how big of a difference it makes. Can't even begin to. The worth he tries to show me that I have...it has equally strong effects to the negligence that's shaped me so far. In fact, the effects may be even stronger because they're beginning to counteract my harmful misconceptions.
Now you've heard my story as an example. It's interesting to think about the roles people choose for themselves. Some stay in the middle of the action, trying to have everyone's attention all the time and pouting if they don't get it. Some wander in the fringes of it all, looking in from the outside and contributing little to conversation, watching and listening. Lots of people actually shift between these roles, usually depending on the group they're with. Or wait...do most people choose one of these roles, or are most people actually equals and I only see this because the people I'm used to effect everyone around them in this way?
The person who wants the most attention gives the least. How is that supposed to work? Everyone is supposed to defer to them...for no reason whatsoever. When I noticed that discrepancy, I left. I'm done with that. That person is okay to be around sometimes, but I can't let them have so much control over me, over my very personality!
I can't help but wonder...if other people start to notice this, will they also, eventually, leave...?
No one deserves to be ignored. Dynamic, astounding people are often overlooked. For whatever reason, some of the most amazing treasures can be found in the corner.