Walking down the hall one day, I noticed white sheets of paper hanging around the hall, filled with writing. It wasn’t a regular flyer for an activity, or credit recovery; instead, it was a sort of essay, titled, “Please…Hear What I’m Not Saying.” I pulled it down and read it, and was immediately concerned.
The writing spoke of someone who wore a mask, who spoke of confidence but inside was terrified of the emptiness they had created. It concluded that the author needed help, and that feeling wanted was the only thing that could save them.
I was concerned not out of empty sympathy; it was the concern of knowing that someone else was going through something that I had felt, many times walking through my years at Carbon High. It echoed pieces of writing that I had typed out of desperation. I wanted to find the author, and I wanted to help them.
I showed the piece to a few students, and their reactions were similar to what mine had been, but none of them had answers. I asked all knowing Mrs. Scoville and found where it came from, and we don’t need to be worried, but I am not going to reveal the source; the writing is more powerful when it is anonymous.
This piece is powerful because it draws from all of us. The page in that hall did not have a name because it doesn’t belong to a single person; it is the emotions of everyone.
None of us are brave enough to say what is written in the “Hear What I’m Not Saying” piece because, when we bear our souls, we risk the chance of rejection. If we expose the real us, and are denied, then real pain sets in; the sort of pain that hurts worse than the secrets we keep bottled inside. The pain of knowing that we are alone and the hurt isn’t going to get any better.
So, we wear this mask, and if someone denies the mask, that’s ok because we can change it. We can put on new clothes, and laugh at the right things, and listen to the right music to fit in; and then, once we stop fitting in, we just change it again so that we do.
None of us are really ourselves in high school. We are all lost, and sometimes someone gets so lost, they start to think that lost is all they are.
So, we put on our designer jeans and do our homework for the next day and just continue our lives in all this confusion.
The confusion isn’t fair; it’s dark and all-consuming, and the confusion is why students are known to have so many problems. The confusion is the root of self-harm and eating disorders, among other teenage difficulties.
So, we all need to begin to listen for the words that we aren’t saying because we are all broken, and as the wonderful poem I found states, “You have to help by holding out your hand, even when that’s the last thing I seem to want or need. Each time you are kind and gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care…I can make it.”