It’s normal to want to feel visible.
It’s healthy to want to feel visible.
It’s not “narcissistic” or “dramatic” to desire to be, and really feel, seen.
It’s true that narcissists typically want to feel overwhelmingly visible— usually at the expense of everybody ELSE around them’s visibility.
But what makes a narcissist a narcissist isn’t necessarily their desire for visibility— it’s more often their lack of consideration or empathy for the other humans in their orbit.
To a narcissist, being seen (and, most often, worshipped) tends to be the only priority in their worlds— outstripping any consideration for healthy, reciprocal relationships.
But the desire to be visible is not, in itself, narcissistic.
We don’t want to feel visible because we think we’re so great.
Human beings kind of construct who we are in relationship with our environment and the other humans out there.
For eons, we literally couldn’t see ourselves, so the only way we even knew we existed was the reactions and responses of other people and animals, or the impact we had on the environment around us.
Thus it was really important for us to have relationships where we were seen and responded to.
When we’re babies, our entire existence is wrapped up in other peoples’ responsivity to us.
One of the reasons why babies are so sensitive to attachment and attention is because, if a baby isn’t appropriately attended to, it literally cannot survive.
All of which is to say, there are really good evolutionary reasons why we want to be and feel seen by other human beings.
Visibility is really important to love.
Love is an experience where we feel we are uniquely valued by another person.
How can we feel uniquely valued if we don’t even feel seen?
To really feel uniquely valued— to feel loved— necessarily implies that the other person has taken the time and the care to really see us.
And yet, many of us are shamed when we express our desire to be seen and acknowledged.
We’re made to feel as if we’re a burden.
Some people brandish the label “attention seeking” at us as if it’s the ULTIMATE insult.
What if there’s nothing wrong with seeking attention?
Maybe we NEED attention, especially from the important people in our lives, to function well.
Most of the time when someone accuses someone else of being “attention seeking,” there’s an implication that they are “creating drama” in order to gain attention they wouldn’t otherwise be entitled to.
It’s become cultural shorthand for “being a pain in the ass.”
Yes, it’s inconvenient when people we don’t want to pay attention to, do things to try to gain our attention. Yes, I get as frustrated as you probably get by those behaviors.
But attention seeking itself isn’t bad.
Seeking to be visible, especially to those who say they love us, isn’t bad.
Needing attention and acknowledgement and affirmation isn’t bad.
Some call this behavior “needy”…but is there any human (or any animal at all) who DOESN’T have needs?
You bet we’re needy.
And you bet we’re attention seeking.
And sure, maybe it’s important to try to develop ways to seek attention and to get our other needs met that aren’t overly intrusive or inconvenient or exhausting for those around us.
But let’s not shame ourselves for having needs.
And let’s not pretend we don’t ALL want to be visible.
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