In the small Iowan town I am from, businesses are required to have the front of their store modeled after Dutch Architecture to celebrate the town's heritage. Businesses that meet the requirement are said to have a "Dutch Front". You see, the fronts mask any impurities that may be on the inside of the building. As long as the store presents itself as perfect on the outside, everyone is happy.
The term "Dutch Front" was also used by my high school American Literature teacher to describe the image people strive with every fiber of their being to maintain. For a large part of my life, I worried about not meeting the image that people expected of me: happy and go lucky. Everyone seemed happy with that image...well, everyone except me.
I lived my life in constant fear of making the wrong comment or asking questions that were too personal. Instead of having relationships full of trust and depth, I developed many acquaintances. I thought that if I jumped around from friend group to group, people would not be able to see through the image I diligently worked to maintain.
Fast forward to the present day.
I am entering my junior year of college in a few weeks. During my time at college, I have learned several invaluable lessons through psychology courses, family, and friends. Continually, I realize that demonstrating vulnerability is freeing in a way no mere words can explain. I am learning to take joy when my friends demonstrate trust by sharing parts of their day with me, to be a person of depth in a world of superficial nonsense, and to unashamedly love every part of the person that I am becoming.
If you look past the the Dutch Fronts in my small town, you may see a water leak from the ceiling, cracked tile, or a rusty doorknob. Similarly, people have gifts and flaws. At the end of the day, life is so much more fulfilling for those that are working to accept this and chip away at the image they have presented to the world: their "Dutch Front".