A Little Talk about Cellophane

I’m a theatre kid at heart. Yeah I spent 15 years playing sports and I coach them now, but my first real passion was the stage. In recent years I have been able to expand my knowledge about different shows, songs, and style of direction/choreography. One of my personal favorite musicals is “Chicago”. I am an unapologetic sucker for rag style music, and Chicago has a bunch. One of my absolute favorite songs in the show is called “Mister Cellophane” sung by Amos Hart, the estranged husband of main character Roxie.

“Mister Cellophane” has Amos lamenting about how Roxie and other characters of the show do not take him seriously or even seem to not notice when he’s around. Cellophane is a translucent wrapping that can appear to be invisible if one does not inspect clearly. I remember first listening to the song thinking “I know nothing about this show or these characters, but Amos Hart is me!” I got sad at first, but then realized it’s good to know that someone can put your feelings into words and music.

“…And even without clucking like a hen
Everyone gets noticed, now and then
Unless, of course, that person it should be
Invisible, inconsequential me
Cellophane, Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name, Mister Cellophane
‘Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me and never know I’m there…

So why cellophane? Simply put it’s this: sometimes I feel invisible and unwanted.

For me, this song exemplifies what it’s like living with anxiety. One bad experience can mess with your confidence and psyche in regards to working with an individual. Being a middle school teacher and camp counselor, you would think I have no problem working with individuals and being in big groups. At 30 years old I feel embarrassed to say that I’m still very much aware of the way people see and perceive me. Growing up and having body confidence issues (which I touch here ) made me hypersensitive to my perception from other people. There are times I feel like I’m in a room and my instincts tell me to leave because I’m a burden to others or my presence is not welcome. More often than not I’ll find myself sitting in a large group of people and I very rarely strike up conversations or talk at all. After a while, I will simply walk out of the room feeling ashamed and disgraced that I am so paralyzed by fear. Anxiety is a bitch of a condition to live with.

Everyone wants to be noticed and feel need and important. Everyone wants to feel loved. It’s a basic human form of communication and developmental psychology. When a mental illness creeps in and convinces you that you’re neither wanted or missed, it really can drive people to dark places. People can swear up and down how they aren’t bothered by the negative opinions of others. People can talk about how it’s only “me against the world” and there could be some truth to those statements. But I know for a fact that that mindset doesn’t last forever. Some may even claim that “since it’s all in your head, how do you know you’ve really got a problem?” The answer? I’m living it 24/7. I can tell you the times I’ve locked myself in my room while at camp because I am afraid to interact with other counselors, I can tell you which hotel hallway in Eau Claire, WI I sat and sobbed for an hour and a half while my girlfriend was at a wedding. I can tell you dozens of the times I have sat awkwardly in a group of people who were talking about a subject I knew about but didn’t chime in because I saw myself as a hindrance to the group. The need for people to connect in authentic and organic ways is crucial for proper human development. Anxiety the last few years of my life has really made me at times feel like a burden as if I should be happy nobody is paying attention to me. Even though it would be nice to have attention, I never want anyone to have negative attention towards me or too much attention. Anxiety is a double-edged sword pressed against the neck of my life: I want to move but I don’t want to hurt myself in the process.

The last 3 months I’ve gained weight due to my surgery (about 20 pounds), because of this, I have been taking fewer pictures with my friends/family. I’ve been ultra critical about my clothing choices and the way I look in clothes. I have had a very negative inner monologue when it comes to my self-talk and body image. I find myself being more apologetic about doing simple tasks and merely being around people (gotta love body image issues!).  I feel like a hypocrite when I have to look people in the eyes and tell them to love who they are when I still struggle with aspects of myself. I justify it by being truthful with others and helping others it can make me feel better about myself; even for a little bit.

Sometimes I find myself feeling like Amos: confused as to why people treat me the way they do, annoyed by a generally lax attitude towards myself. I know my worth and I know my place in this world. Anxiety sometimes can give me a gut punch and have me doubled over. But I will never allow it to take away my purpose. I’m not cellophane.

I hope this helped, thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

YFBF

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