Monday, 17 November 2014

BEHIND THE MASK...

Do YOU put on a mask for the world to see, yet feel that nobody knows or understands the real you? Readers talk about what it's like to hide your true feelings…

Gwen says:
I am actually a really shy and vulnerable person but I hide behind a loud and boisterous facade. I act like I don't care and pretend that I don't like people, that they don't bother me. It is a kind of armour that I wear. Beneath it, I am shy and sensitive and I like hugs and romance and cuddles… I am not sure people at school would always understand that though, from the way I act. It's a kind of self-protection.

Blaze says:
Gwen, I am like that too, but I never used to be. Something happened to me last year which was quite shocking and horrible for me, and I began holing up inside a little shell of fake 'confidence' and nobody can see that on the inside I am breaking down. I sometimes drop my guard and people notice - and then I feel quite vulnerable and scared. My life is SUCH a mess and I don't want people to see that.

Clare says:
Oh, Blaze, that sounds awful. Is there someone you could talk to about what happened? A friend? A teacher? You can't keep all that inside all the time. I hide behind a 'happy, carefree' mask sometimes, because I am a very private person and my friends are quite gossipy and they do judge people. Things are not great for me at home, nothing serious, but it's not ideal. And I don't want my friends to know all that. Seriously, though Blaze... I think you should try to confide in someone.

Blaze says: 
Thing is, Clare, I expect some people would comfort me. My friends, anyway… but others would sneer and be really mean to me about it. And I'd break down, I know I would. It would make things awkward for people… I can't really explain it any more than that, but that is why I hide behind a 'mask'.

Jo says:
Blaze… I can really identify with that. I quite often hide behind a mask when at school or with friends, because I hate the thought of being rejected  or judged. I self-harm and I know that people would judge me for that, and for the fact that I sometimes feel very low. For my whole life I have been judged for the way I act, the way I look, my weight… all of it. They never take the time to get to know me, they just make snap assumptions and often get things wrong. So… I put on a face that says, yes, I am strong… everything is fine… even though it really isn't. I'm breaking on the inside.

Clare says:
I am going to say the same thing to you Jo… you really do need to talk to someone. It's quite scary how  we don't know how other people are feeling just because they put on a brave face or a tough face. Maybe it's time we all became more honest with each other. But it's easy to say that… I suppose I will go on using my 'happy, carefree' mask because it's simpler that way. Safer. Does that sound crazy?

Jo says:
No, it's what I do, what we all do I think, so I understand. I am seeing my school counsellor and he is the only person I can talk to about the self-harm and eating issues. It helps to talk to him, but when I leave school I'll have nobody to go to when I need that little boost of confidence, that little push so I know I can do something.

Clare says:
You know what? We may only be chatting online, but we are being honest… that's important. And we're not judging each other, we are trying to help. Thanks for making me feel less alone, anyway… all of you. And good luck.

Many thanks to Gwen, Blaze, Clare and Jo for their honesty; names have been changed to protect identities.

Photos modelled/ styled by Charlotte & Emma.

Cathy says:
This is a sad and serious discussion, but it shows that we really can't judge others… those who seem happy or even loud and boisterous may be hiding a much more vulnerable side. Do YOU ever hide your true feelings? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

8 comments:

  1. I said on Facebook that I don't hide behind a mask which is kind of true - I don't pretend to be someone cooler or more "normal" - I didn't realise slight dishonesty was included. I haven't told anyone at college about my self harm, mental issues (the tutors must know something's up because I ticked the mental illness box on the enrolment form), panic attacks or even that I'm a lesbian (although, again, the tutors know because it's on the form. My "Gay Agenda" notepad might be a bit of a giveaway though!). Most of the class probably don't even know I'm deaf. Why should they know any of these things? A more serious problem with the mask situation is that I act really funny and jokey when I'm with my psychologist. I know she's there to help me and I should be honest with my problems but it's so difficult to put some things into words. Besides, Mum told me it's manipulative and attention seeking to cry in front of people. I will almost definitely cry if I try and go into detail so I try and keep the mood lighthearted with jokes and fun facts and anecdotes. It does stop me from crying but I think my psychologist is confused as to how I can think I'm depressed when I laughed myself stupid at a joke I made once (I was telling her how there's a temple so sacred that only the Pope is allowed to go inside and, because the Popes are usually old, it's feared they might die inside the temple. If they do, no one can go in to retrieve the body because of how sacred the temple is. So they get around this by tying a rope to the Pope's waist so, if they dies, they can pull him out without entering the temple. I finished this fact with "I guess he's a Pope on a rope" then laughed for about 5 minutes straight). I mean, she's found out some stuff and I've tried to be honest about how I feel but my attitude probably makes me look like I'm making it up and that's my worst fear. I think she's pretty much my last resort. If she can't help me then I don't have a clue what to do. Better take off that mask.

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  2. "Never be ashamed of who you are. Never forget it, nobody else will. Wear your flaws like armour so that they cannot be used against you"-Tyrion Lannister

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  3. Stay Strong Girlsxxx. Remember we r all beautiful and deserve respect no matter who we r. Sometimes we feel better if we r honest about r selfs to other people but I understand ur situations. Remember letting someone know and letting go of r troubles is the best way to solve things. Hamdi:)xxx

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  4. I had quite a bad experience with a crush once, eventually I found it helped to talk, instead of bottling things up.

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  5. I also hide behind a mask... and have done for so long that I fear it's actually a part of me. Stay strong girls xxx

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  6. I have the curliest hair ever and i hate it!!!!!!!!
    but i try to like it as much as i can

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  7. I wish you all good luck and really hope everything turns out great!!!
    Stay strong

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  8. I have grown a "tiny" crush and I wish I could just get rid of it. As much as I've tried, I can't. I am now trying to hide it, but I wonder how long it will last.

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