I've been walking down memory lane a lot lately. During one of those strolls, I pulled out my old literary magazine from high school and came across this:


She smiles, laughs in public;
the whole world thinks she’s happy.
She goes home, and the tears come;
Her mask of ebullience falls to the floor.
— Shannon Saunders (Dingle)

I wrote the poem in middle school. As if those years weren't challenging enough, I went to three different schools in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades respectively. I tried on different facades in each: the extroverted Blossom-wannabe who petitioned the principal to allow hats as part of the dress code in sixth grade, the more withdrawn poet in seventh grade who wrote the lines above (and many others verses that aren't fit for public consumption, because most of my middle school scrawl was, well, more middle school-ish), and the bubbly eighth-grade cheerleader who also sported a collection of flannel shirts and pretended to care as much as her boyfriend did when Kurt Cobain died.    

Then I submitted the poem to be published in high school. I had chosen one primary mask by then: perfection. If I could be smart enough in advanced classes, fast enough in the pool, well-written enough in the school paper, dramatic enough on stage, skilled enough on the golf course, godly enough at church, and spirited enough in student government, I'd matter. That's what I thought, at least. I remember spending hours trying to choose the right quote that would show that I was worthy, wanting something witty with a pop culture reference but settling for a verse I hoped would convey that I was good enough. 

Now, as a grown woman, the words of my younger self's poem still resonate. As I wrote last week, striving for enough-ness is still a thing for me. Wearing masks can be too, even though I wrote a year ago about wanting to be a truth teller rather than a mask wearer.


My masks are falling. I'm confronting the lies of scarcity I've been telling myself. I'm wearing bright colors of nail polish and setting up a home office of my own for the first time ever and trusting friends in a whole new way and considering running more 5Ks and connecting more deeply with Lee and... well, I might call it a mid-life crisis except I'm only 33 and hope to live past 66. So let's call it my 1/3-life crisis, k?

Or maybe not a crisis at all. Maybe I'll go with breakdown - ahem, spiritual awakening - a la Brené Brown. (Side note: if you haven't read her stuff, start here and then here and then here. You're welcome.)

Whether it's a crisis or breakdown or awakening, this walk down memory lane has been good for me. It's nice to finally be growing up from that middle school girl who wrote about pretending.