How many masks do I wear?

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What’s behind the mask? 

A mouth. A nose. The bottom of someone’s face. A chin, maybe some freckles. 

What’s behind the fabric that saves lives? 

A smile? A frown? Contagious happiness? Deep sadness? A lie within it all? A feeling of deadness inside? A powerful struggle to fight back the tears? 

Face masks hide the bottom of faces, allowing people to have to fake fewer smiles and be true to themselves. But what about the identity mask? What about the emotional mask? 

I have learned to showcase the emotions people want from me. The happy emotions show through the most, and I push away any sign of other emotions—at least on the outside. 

I push away the stress of school life. I push away my anger towards society. I push away whatever sadness might be puddling inside of me. I push away the fears of the future and impossible possibilities dreamed up from the depths of my imagination. 

Who is the real Lauren? Have I met her yet?”

I push away the emotions, and I don’t necessarily know how to show them when I need to. 

I also have many personalities and many friend groups. Do I change how I act for each one? If so, where is my true identity? Who is the real Lauren? Have I met her yet? 

Is she a bubbly little girl who never wants to leave the playground of her imagination? Is she the quiet reserved girl or the girl who laughs a little bit too loud?

Is she the girl who sits in the weirdest positions or is she the girl with her tongue out pretending to be dead? Is she the girl I left behind as a child with heaps of energy and bounds of smiles and friends up to my ears? Or did I leave her behind with the girl who didn’t care what she looked like or what other people thought of me? 

Who is the real Lauren? 

How many masks do I wear? 

What is behind the masks?