Being front and centre can be scary - just ask anyone who has ever quit the band to go solo. Being more visible in the world has its risks, but with that can come great rewards. “Being physically more visible is a signal that you are going to play an active role in shaping your own life and things around you,” says Monica Haughey, psychotherapist and founder of the School of Conscious Living. “Being brave enough to stand out implies you will not be easily pushed around.” This can be important in cultivating our own self-esteem and to being respected by others, says Haughey.
Being more visible at work or in your community may mean taking a stance, expressing an opinion or leading a project. Not everyone is going to like it. “People will disagree with you, you will be criticised, some people might decide they don’t like you,” says Haughey. If you are going to be more visible, know that disapproval comes with the territory. Those in the chorus line have fewer critics than leading actors.
Where do I start?
Start slow, Haughey advises. “Begin with a way that feels safe for you and grow from there,” she says. This might mean straightening your back as you walk, speaking up at a work meeting that you have always been silent at, or asking a question in a public forum. Volunteering to organise a work event or participating in a community project is another way to dip your toe into being more visible. How you dress can enhance your visibility too. The right clothes can make you more noticeable, and don’t be afraid of colour, says Haughey. If you feel good in a particular item of clothing or in a certain colour, you’ll project that.
What if I fail?
Is fear of messing up stopping you from being more visible? That’s normal. “You might worry about messing up, and you probably will mess up, but stretching yourself will always involve some discomfort, and may involve making some mistakes,” says Haughey. “Athletes will perform badly from time to time, but the most successful will analyse weak performances and use them as a springboard to improve.”
What’s the payoff?
Being less visible in life is the less risky option for sure, but weigh up the opportunity cost. “In the worst scenario, you will feel resentful of others who are more visible than you, or those who box you into a corner,” says Haughey.
What often holds us back is a tendency to accept the role that others assign to us, she says. “We owe it to ourselves and to the world to get past this so that we can bring more of ourselves to the world.”
Being more visible may mean you draw more people into your life as well. “You could find more people approaching you because they identify with you,” says Haughey. Having pinned your colours to the mast or indicated a particular stance, expect not just haters to come out of the woodwork but some fans too.