"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill
Masks. Ever worn one? Maybe for a Halloween costume or a play you did in elementary school, when you were younger of course. Most people have worn a mask in their lives; they've dressed up and pretended to be someone else, playing pretend, being a little kid filled with imagination. It was all fun and games, though, nothing more. However, even though our childhood masks filled with joy and adventures are gone, there's still another mask covering ourselves, and it's nowhere near as joyful.
I've found that inside every one of us lurks a secret, a little piece of our lives we can't bare to part with or let someone else see. Generally speaking, it's what makes us who we are inside and forms us into the kind of people we've become or are growing to be. Whether it's painful, distressing, depressing, or even cheerful for those fortunate few, I'm not sure. From what I see, we just try and cover up this little piece of us because it's special or sometimes even dangerous.
Still don't understand? I don't blame you. I didn't either, until I started becoming curious.
For me, I used to just take what was on the outside, or what I thought was on the outside, as who someone really was. I'm sure some of you Whyvillians can relate. We see someone who smiles and think "Oh, she's happy today," or "Hey, this guy's in a bright mood." I used to figure that everything a person said and acted like was who they were, until I started looking closer, until I started looking for something else.
What exactly was I looking for in regular people? I'm still not quite sure, myself. Perhaps it was something different, or a slight change in behavior. All I know is that once I started looking deeper into the things my friends did, I saw them in a new light and I saw that they were definitely not who everyone thought they were.
Friend A (I'm not using names, savvy?) curses a lot, he hangs around people that a good amount of the population likes and tries to get noticed. He does some outlandish things, and sometimes tries to show off what he thinks others idealize as "cool". Most people find him annoying because they see he's trying to fit in, meaning no matter how hard he tries nobody seems to give him a chance. One day I saw him working out a science problem in class, and he looked really calm and extremely different than how he acted around everyone else. Friend A had this almost disheartened look in his eyes where he was tired or annoyed just a little. I knew, then, there was something this kid wasn't letting the world see.
He has been putting on a mask for everyone and trying to stay upbeat when his inside emotions were bringing him down. I still didn't know yet what he was hiding, why he was acting this way, so I figured I'd ask. I thought, "Hey, maybe he just needs someone to talk to." I'm not saying this to brag, but I was right. One day this summer I was texting him (it's a lot easier to say something private when you're not talking to someone face-to-face) and I asked him why he tries so hard to be like everyone else. Little did I know the answer was just . . . unbelievable. Friend A opened up completely, he seemed almost eager to tell someone about the 'real' him.
His dad is a drunk, and his brothers hate him and pick on him all the time. They basically said through their actions that no one cared about him. Friend A lives with his grandmother because of this, and when I saw this on the message I almost didn't believe it.
Yet it made sense. He even told me that he tries to act all cool and stuff because his brothers think he's so stupid and will never be as "awesome" as they are. It surprised me, as in I was struck dumb that he has to live with that kind of horror. But I'm personally glad I asked him, because otherwise I would've thought the same thing everyone else did, I wouldn't have given him a chance.
Friend A needed someone to sit down and listen, and it wasn't just him. I've slowly been trying to understand what my other friends are keeping behind a mask, and it turns out none of it is pretty. From divorces to "heartbreak warfares" I've heard a lot of terrible things going on in my own buddies' lives. Most everything was just hidden behind a smiling face, a mask.
If you don't think someone is having a hard time, if you're the kind of person that I used to be, then I give you this advice.
The only exposed part of the face when you have a mask on is the eyes. So, look at someone else's and carefully examine with your mind what feeling you get when you see those pupils vulnerable and concentrated on something else. Is there fear? Hatred? Resentment?
Don't underestimate what someone else could be going through, because we are all hiding behind a mask in this masquerade of a world.