Rhodes_Headshot_SketchMany of us construct intricate facades for ourselves — we practice so often in the mirror, we start to believe in them. But we never fully do.

I am driven.

I am strong.

I am OK.

I am happy.


…Can’t you see?

There is a quiet, insidious feeling of emptiness that comes with building a front like that.

But every time you are reminded that the person you are bears little semblance to the character you are putting forth, you only hurt yourself. It happens to all of us.

You would be surprised at how many people around you are working as hard as you are to be the epitome of who they think they are supposed to be — who they think others expect them to be.

Everyone has something going on, something that bothers him, something that keeps her up at night. I should take this job for the money, I should go to this school for the name, I should be masculine, I should be feminine. I should be something else.

But the person I, for one, want to meet is you. Just you.

So, all I have to say is:

To the girl who strives so hard to cover any flaws, the one who works herself to the bone and skips every party, every get-together because acing this test and going to law school is the only path she thinks she has (though it’s not one she ever wanted);

To the man who wants everyone to know he is straight and puts on a brazen show of bravado, dates as many girls as he can, insults those less masculine than he is, and then damns himself in his room for the thought that he might be gay;

To the child who promises he’s fine because why wouldn’t he be? With this life and this school and these friends, he has no reason to be upset. No reason to feel the weight of such unremitting sadness upon him, one he cannot lift and one he does not talk about;

To you. To whoever tries so hard to be someone he’s not and then breaks down in private or lashes out in public because it’s harder than he imagined keeping this up.

Know that it’s okay.

Though I may not understand exactly what you are going through, I know that it is, without doubt, okay to be yourself. It may take years to understand, to transition back.

You may think that no one is battling the same issues, the same demons you are, but someone is. It may not be the same situation. But you are certainly not alone.

Once you realize this and come to terms with the mask you put on, you can finally take it off. It’s an inexplicably beautiful thing to finally assume the role of yourself.

You may slip back. Those thoughts and habits do not go away overnight. But, if you then seek out others who know you and understand you, and, most importantly, accept you, you’ll see how much easier it is — how much happier you are, as yourself.

Because I can tell you for certain, that you, and you alone, are more than enough.


Samantha Rhodes is a rising senior in the College. Watch Your Step appears every other Tuesday.

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