I looked in the mirror this morning, and I couldn’t see my face. I drove to work this morning, ate my breakfast, sat down at my desk. I talked with people. I couldn’t see their faces. They couldn’t see mine. We laughed. We parted. I’ll go home tonight to my family, maybe visit some friends. All of us, faceless. Hiding behind the masks we call ourselves.
My first semester in college has been one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had in a long time. Aside from the actual educational aspect of college, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so challenged to know who I was and what I wanted from life before I began my college journey. I’ve always been part of somewhat small communities: a family of 4, a homeschool group, small churches. It’s always been easy for me to find a niche and feel independent, like I have some kind of an impact or a say in the way things work. Life at college is an entirely different beast. Thousands and thousands of people, everyone going somewhere, doing something. If everyone’s important, is anyone? If everyone is busy, what makes my struggle so important?
Who am I, really?
Do I matter?
Thinking back on this past year, I find myself empathizing more and more with Subaru from Re:Zero. It’s like I’ve been thrown into a new world, with little to no idea of what I’m doing, yet I’m trying to accomplish this grand goal. But when I think about it, how grand is it? Everyone else has their lives and their plans, their hopes and their dreams, their loved ones, their pet peeves, their struggles and desires, yet somehow mine are “special”? More “real”, somehow?
How can I pursue my dreams when I don’t even know who I am?
Like Subaru, I find myself trying to keep going. Putting on a brave face, trying to galvanize everyone around me to push onward. がんばて！You can do it! But even as I say the encouraging words, they ring hollow in my ears. Hollow, like the mask I wear. Hollow, like the longings in my heart for some kind of affirmation that I am someone who matters. That even in the middle of the crowd, I’m still me. That…”me”…my “selfness”…isn’t drowned out or diluted. That I can have an individual nature in the midst of the collective.
I don’t wanna be alone.
I want so badly to be understood by someone, anyone. I want to share the burden of this life with someone else who gets it, but I don’t know how to get close to anyone. How can I take off my mask when I’m not sure where mask ends and I begin? How can I know when someone isn’t wearing their mask? How can I be sure that my fragile dreams, ideas, thoughts, won’t be crushed under the weight of someone else’s? How can I know that they even care?
Anxiety has never been my friend. Recently, it’s been my closest confidant.
The whispers, the lies. Small deaths, extinguished dreams, dashed hopes. A life lived in an automatic loop. Eat, drink, sleep, study. Smile. Play. Talk. Walk. Drive. Exist.
I want my satisfaction to be in God, but I don’t trust Him.
My life, my dreams, my pains. I want to give them all to Him, but it’s hard. I want to control everything so badly, but the more I try, the more I lose control. I can’t take it. I can’t do it. What’s the point of my faith if I don’t live it? What am I if I can’t even trust the God I claim to?
Maybe life would be better
That’s not the answer.
I’m not perfect.
I can’t be perfect.
I won’t always be able to do everything that I want to.
I won’t always be the friend I want to be.
I won’t always be the person I want to be.
I’ll make mistakes. I’ll fall.
Sometimes I won’t be sure who I am.
The struggle brings out my true self. The mask peels off, and I see myself.
It hurts. I’m so helpless without my self-made shield.
But I can only heal when I’m vulnerable.
I can only grow when I’m free.
I looked in the mirror this morning. I saw my face. It looked tired. Hurt. A little melancholy. But behind those brown eyes I saw a something. A spark. A flicker of hope. An echo of the joy that I once found in my Creator. How far I’ve come. How far I’ve run. Maybe…maybe He can rekindle that flame. Renew that fire that I had.
Maybe…I can be me. In Him.
Today’s post was a bit more personal than usual. If that’s weird, forgive me. I wanted to return to blogging with a kind of recap of my experiences away from Unsheathed. It’s been beautiful and amazing and weird and scary all at the same time, but I’m starting to make sense of it all. I’m not a perfect person, much less a perfect Christian, but I hope that my struggles can lend you a bit of hope. No matter what you’re going through, no matter who you are, you’re not alone. You don’t have to be alone. You don’t need to bear your burdens alone. Life is scary, especially when your insecurities seem to grow by the day. But there is hope. In God. In Christ. In the people around you. Don’t give up. You can make it through.