The first assignment I had for my composition class this school year was to write an introduction. Who am I? My immediate thought was: well, who do I need to be to make a good grade in this class? What mask do I need to wear for this teacher? Or what mirror do I need to hold up so they see reflected back what they want to see? I wonder if anyone can escape the need for a mask.
I’m a teenager and therefore in a state of transition. I’m not a child that needs to be told what to do, yet not an adult free to make her own choices. Or speak her mind (all names have been changed to protect the innocent). High school is a place where pressure and raging hormones reign supreme, yet you are expected to know what you want to do and who you are. And further, to justify that to adults and defend it from peers, even if you’re not sure who you really are. I mean how could I know? I have less than 20 years of life on earth, and have spent most of it in one tiny town going to school with less than 500 people. I’m not exactly experiencing the the “real world.”
So who am I? I’m not the popular girl or the bitch that everyone thinks is cool. I’m not a druggie. I don’t have that sexy thing going on. I’m not a jock and not a church person. I’m not even in the weirdo group. I am a lone wolf without a pack, and although I sometimes feel lonely, I’ve heard it builds character. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends – even a best friend – but all my friends are in different groups, all of which I’m not a part of. I can scratch the surface but that’s about it. I guess I’m the girl that wants to be invited to the party. Even if I and everyone else knows that I probably won’t go.
So I need a mask to hide the emotions and parts of my personality that are not accepted by myself, my family, my friends, my peers, and society. People might believe that by using a mask I’m being insincere. I think it’s my greatest weapon, because it allows me to hide the insecurities I have about myself.
There are a lot of movies about the dramas that a teen goes through and how everything is the END OF THE WORLD for them, but I disagree. I think the reason for that misconception is that we have R-rated feelings bottled up inside us, and we hide them because it is not appropriate for us to express them. We can’t get them out. If you lose your shit at school, you are doomed. If you drop a swear word in front of an adult, you are blowing their image of you and likely to get in trouble. I mean, it’s not like I can throw a tantrum anymore. I have been told that chocolate helps.
But not even chocolate can help me with the question of who I am. It is so fucking annoying having these emotions—feeling lost and confused, crazy and frustrated, full of curiosity, wanting to be sheltered and set loose all at the same time because you have no control over yourself and you aren’t sure where you are heading.
I think that when I peel it all back, I am whoever I need to be at this moment. And sometimes that means wearing a mask. Is there something wrong with me? Maybe, I wouldn’t know. So maybe that is ok too, because I don’t have to invite everyone to my party either.