After weeks of not writing, the one thing I've been thinking about is how scary, hurtful and honestly draining it is to wear that mask day after day. Most times it's about protecting those around you or about protecting the image they have of you, but at the end of the day, when they all leave you, who are you left with? Yourself.
You know the feeling, especially at the beginning of another college semester (or maybe even your first). You walk to class, see your friends, do your homework, go to sleep and do it all over again. For some this is never an issue...it's why we're all technically on this campus. But for others, this is actual hard work.
When people ask how you are, you respond with the general "fine" or "okay" but can't manage to scrape anything truthful out of your mouth. Even if you could, the thought that no one cares continues moving through your brain at record speed. You continue holding tightly onto your mask and the hope that the thoughts in your head will shut up.
You can't manage to tell them about the nights you've spent crying, panic attacks you've fought off or dark thoughts that have entered your mind once more and much stronger than before.
After some time of being asked how you are and lying about it, the answer suddenly becomes "I'm just tired". And I know this because right now, I am you.
Maybe you're a first year student and college isn't like what you saw in the movies. Maybe after a week of orientation and faking it to get by, you're finally letting your wall down. Maybe you've been in college for one or two years and still can't figure it out. Maybe every day is a fight to live.
Perhaps, somehow, this year seems harder than any before. It may be weird for you to say that you are struggling with this as much as you are because as an upperclassman, you're supposed to "have it all together." You're supposed to be better than this.
You're just "tired".
You may have found yourself lying about all of this and putting on a mask because you thought and still do think that nobody cares because at this point, all that can be invested into you already has been. And maybe that is true of some people in your life --maybe goodbyes are on the horizon.
People have asked you how you are and you either respond by saying "I'm OK" or "I'm tired", or even your latest escape -- silence. And when you're quiet, that's when it's worst. You've tried waiting for others to notice but after years of ups and downs, people don't care to notice anymore. It's tiring for them...they've given up.
You don't know who to turn to anymore, but the sadness eating you alive has ruined so much of what you used to love. Nothing seems worth it, not even being in college, talking to those you love, or hanging out with your best friend. All that seems worth it is hiding behind a drink or a fake smile.
That "tired" may translate into being too tired to move from your bed to go to class, too tired to interact with any friends, too tired to talk to those you love, too tired to shower, too tired to talk, or even too tired to try, then maybe it's your time to take your mask off and let it be known.
All I want to do is take my mask off and be honest, but it's not easy. It never is, especially after taking it off for people who've walked away afterwards. Everything seems too much and I (maybe even you) feel not enough. And all that I can ever get out of my mouth is "I'm just tired."
But maybe this is me letting my mask go just one more time.
As for you, you may be feeling alone, but letting that mask go is exactly what could impact you most. Maybe allowing yourself to be more than your fake "tired" is what will save you.
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