Author Unknown

I hope you won't be fooled by me, for I wear a mask. In fact, I wear a thousand masks. Masks that I'm afraid to take off, because one of them is me, and I'm not sure which one it is.

I am likely to give you the impression that I'm secure, that confidence is my name and coolness is my game. It may appear that the waters are calm and I'm in command, and that I need no one - but I hope you won't believe me. My surface may seem smooth, but beneath I dwell in confusion, in fear, and in aloneness. But I hide this.

Oh! I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed. That's why I frantically create a mood to hide behind, -- behind the mask of being nonchalant, with a sophisticated facade to shield me from your understanding. But such understanding is my salvation and I know it!

If I don't keep the mask in front of myself, I am afraid you'll think less of me -- that you'll reject me, or worse, laugh at me -- and your laugh, would kill me. So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game, with a facade of assurance without, all the while trembling within, for I am not what I appear to be. I'm lonely, sad and frightened, and I so desperately need someone to love me -- just as I am.

And so my life becomes a front. I chatter idly to you in the suave surface tones. I tell you everything that is nothing -- and nothing that is everything of what is crying within me. So when I go into my routine, I hope you won't be fooled by what I am saying. I hope you will listen carefully, to hear what I am NOT saying.

Oh! I so dislike the superficial, phony game I'm playing. I'd really like to be open, genuine and spontaneous. I want to be me, to be accepted just as I am, and loved --despite all of my shortcomings and faults. I want your help in doing this. I want you to risk approaching me, even when that's the last thing I seem to want or need. I want this from you so I can feel alive again -- and accepted, just by being 'me'.

Each time you're kind and gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand me because you really care, my courage to risk sharing myself with you increases.

I want you to know how important you are to me, and how you can be a creator of the person that is me, if you choose. But it will not be easy for you because a long conviction of worthlessness leads me to maintain a distance. You see, the nearer you approach me, the blinder I may strike back. Oh! I know it is self-defeating, but at the time it seems like the safest thing to do.

I seem to fight against the very things that I cry out for! But I am told that empathy is stronger than walls or masks -- and therein lies my hope. I desperately want you to understand me in spite of my distancing tactics.

Who am I, you may wonder? I am someone you know, very well.

I am YOU - and every man and woman you meet.

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