The Importance of Being Seen
I've been reflecting lately on the importance of being seen and how this can mean two totally different things.
For girls (and everyone, really!), there can be so much anxiety surrounding being seen by the right people, on the right social media platforms, in the right places, at the right parties.
Our experiences in the world can become opportunities to be seen - to get a great selfie that hopefully gets a lot of likes - rather than opportunities to enjoy or take in the experience with the people we are with, and only the people we are with.
This way of being seen is not fulfilling, reassuring or lasting. The more you are seen in this way, the more you crave that feeling. It doesn’t matter if you were seen last week - it’s about if you are seen this week. And again next week.
The other way of being seen is the one I've been really trying to tune in to recently and that’s the enormous power of being seen for who you really are. Of someone recognizing in you something no one else ever has before. How powerful it is when someone notices and comments on a strength in you that you didn't even realize you had. Or if they see what makes your eyes light up and what makes you you.
Truly being seen is transformative. It means everything. And it lasts!! Someone really seeing you for who you are and what you bring to the world one time can have the power to impact you for years to come.
Being and feeling seen makes you braver. More likely to speak up to take action and move towards things that make you happy.
I’ve come to believe that, at a crossroads, the best way to know what the right next steps are is to move toward those people (and those experiences) that make you feel truly seen.
My Moms as Mentors partner and founder Emilie Liebhoff saw in me the ability and potential for me to lead Moms as Mentors as Executive Director, long before I did. And, before that, when she was my supervisor at another organization, she saw in me the value I added in meetings and encouraged me to speak up, despite being the most junior person at the company. She also saw my tentativeness to speak up and made sure she told me to speak up more often and more confidently. She saw my potential and that helped guide me until I saw it too.
I encourage moms to validate for their daughters how important it is to be seen, but challenge their girls to switch which kind of being seen they seek out.
Encourage your girls to seek out times, places and people that make them feel really seen.
Help them nurture friendships that let them be more themselves and guide them to join groups that bring out parts of themselves they like the most.
Together, pause and reflect how differently it feels to be seen on social media vs. seen for who they are.
Share with your daughter about how much you value it when YOU feel seen and give examples of times when you have. Maybe there are even examples you can share with her where SHE made you feel seen. Ask her to think of times she has felt seen.
Let her know, you agree, it’s SO important to be seen. And you understand why she cares so much about it. But help her redefine what that actually means.