Review 2005

Robyn Wilder

Causality and the Invisible Girl

2005 has been good to me. I have bought a house, gone abroad twice, begun a job I enjoy, started to do music again, acquired some new friends and been adopted by a cat.

But for me 2005 will always be the year that I became visible.

I have always imagined myself to be an observer to life's events; in the passenger seat; just along for the ride. I have been The Best Friend, The Girlfriend, One of the Guys. I have been easygoing, undemanding and on the periphery; not wanting to appear too interesting in case someone asks too many questions and realises that I'm not anyone really - I have no opinions, I'm just a cipher that experiences pass through for grammar and editing, and become anecdotes.

I have made being superficially agreeable and emotionally distant an art-form.

This year, all that changed. In almost every critical situation I've encountered this year, I've had to step up to the plate and account for myself - for no other reason than to improve myself. I have been asked my opinion and whatever half-baked answers I have stammered out have been listened to as though I were a - gasp - real person.

This is an odd sort of thing for an invisible girl to get used to.

So I took a look at my life and realised that I have been a real person all this time. As invisible as I may have thought myself, the decisions I have made have had a direct impact on my life. Here are a couple of the less than wise ones...

It is a wet winter night in 1992, and I am standing on a windy suburban rail platform, waiting for my ride home. I have just been on a tentative date - my first - with a boy from college. I'm not at all sure how I feel about him. The boy is waiting with me. He smiles and kisses me wetly. I'm not sure I like it. Then he leans over and whispers in my ear, "I love you." I stare at him, aghast, thinking really? How do you know? My ride pulls up. Not wanting to rock the boat, I reply, "Me, too" and leave. Five years later the relationship goes horribly, torturously wrong, and I am surprised.

It's another wet winter night, this time in 1995. My boyfriend is a guitarist in a band and, sick of being The Girlfriend and having some musical ambitions of my own, I decide to start a band. I play guitar, sing and write songs, so I have put an ad in a local music paper for drummers, bassists, etc. The person who shows up is a girl who plays guitar, sings and writes songs. This isn't exactly what I was after, I think, but give her a go. By the end of the evening I am sure I don't want to be in a band with this person: she's nice, but we don't complement each other in any way; and besides, she's a bit mad. But then she asks if we're hooked up and I say yes. I spend the next 4 years trying to make the band work; pushing her ideas while thwarting my own ambitions. The friendship ends explosively one night outside a cineplex, and I wonder why these things keep happening to me.

I'm not saying that I was to blame for these situations or how they turned out, but I did have a hand in their execution. See, the problem with thinking you're invisible when you're actually subject to causality just like everyone else is that you make bad decisions out of fear or recklessness. Because it doesn't occur to you to ask yourself what you want - you're invisible - what could it possibly matter? And so you do what you think you should in that situation. In my experience, this is almost always the wrong thing to do, because it can set a precedent for the rest of your life.

Ever lay the dinner table and forget to include a place for yourself? That was me until 2005. These days I still make bad snap decisions, or else vacillate endlessly, but I'm more prone to revisiting the issue and asking myself, was that honest?

And with every situation I scrutinise and deal with honestly, another little piece of me becomes visible.

Perhaps next year I shall become opaque.

Robyn Wilder writes Ninja Polymath Blues.

For an introduction and list of contributors to Review 2005, follow this link.


  1. Anonymous10:18 pm

    That's a great bit of writing. Good luck with 'living in the material world'.

  2. A truly wonderful piece. I wonder if a lot of women have a problem with invisibility? I know I surely related--especially to the part about setting the table and forgetting a place for yourself.

    Happy 2006!