I have always prided myself on my ability to hide how I’m feeling.

No one could ever know what was going on with me just by looking at me. They could walk right by me and have no idea what I was going through.

And, I liked it that way. My struggle was mine and mine alone.

So, I comforted myself by thinking that I was sparing people from this scary, raw, uncut version of myself. I held my fears and anxieties close and retreated into my own head.

I learned how to put on a good enough mask that people usually wouldn’t think to look for the real me that was buried under the surface.

But, keeping up appearances is more draining than it may initially appear.

How can anyone break down my walls if they don’t even know I have a wall up!? 

You are not doing anyone any favors by retreating into your seclusion. Because if you hide yourself away all the time, you’re never going to make real connections.

And, as scary as it feels to let your guard down and be who you really are, it’s even scarier to think that no one ever got to know you and love you for the authentic person you are in the first place.

While you may think that you are sparing people from being burdened by your troubles, you are only driving a bigger barrier between you and the people in your life.

So, if you can be brave enough to stop trying to put on a perfect show for the world, then you are going to touch people’s lives in a way you never could before.

Embrace the mess and the things that make you human. Put your real self out there into the world, and other people will be able to meet you half way. 

You will realize: wow. I’m not the only person going through this. I’m not alone in this.

The struggle brings people together, and it helps you realize that the only way to truly connect with people is for everyone to wave their white flags and to stop playing offense all the time.

And when you let down your guard, you may be surprised to find how many people in your lives you’ll be meeting, for the first time, without their masks.

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