The Mask

Before I step outside,
I place the mask over my face,
hiding
because I’m not good enough,
I’m ugly,
I’m lazy,
I don’t care as much as I should.

Before I step outside,
I place the mask over my face,
knowing
it will protect me,
my delicate ego,
and the fragile feelings of
those I meet.

Before I step outside,
I place the mask over my face,
safe
behind the unchanging, impenetrable
shield of identity, and consistency,
and security.

Before I step outside…

I step into courage.

Ripping the mask from my face,
I take a breath, and
hurl it into the trash.
They can have me instead;
messy, inconsistent, scared.
Vulnerable and insecure.
And finally free.

— Stuart Carter

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