Don’t be fooled by me. Don’t be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks. Masks that I’m afraid to take off, and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me. But don’t be fooled, for God’s sake, don’t be fooled.
I gave you the impression that I’m secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without; that confidence is my name, and coolness is my game; that the weather’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one.
But don’t believe me please. My surface may seem smooth, but my surface is my mask. Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence. Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it. I panic at the thought of my weakness and my fear of being exposed. That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind, a nonchalant, sophisticated facade, to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation. my only salvation. And I know it. That is, if it’s followed by acceptance, if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself, from my own self-built prison walls, from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect. It’s the only thing that will assure me of what I can’t assure myself that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t care. I’m afraid to. I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance and love. I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh, and your laugh will kill me. I’m afraid that deep down, I’m nothing. That I’m just no good, and that you’ll see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending game, with a facade of assurance without, and a trembling child within. And so begins the parade of masks. And my life becomes a front. I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk. I tell you everything that’s really nothing, and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine, don’t be fooled by what I’m saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying, what I’d like to be able to say, what for survival I need to say, but which I can’t say.
I dislike hiding. Honestly, I dislike the superficial game I’m playing, the superficial phony game. I’d really like to be genuine and spontaneous me.
But you’ve got to help me.
Instruction: Choose a line that struck you the most and reflect.
© Charles C. Finn