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I am the friend who’s always there for others.

I’m the empath who takes your problems and makes them my own.

I’m the one who checks in on you, who always has the right things to say.

The one who’s classified as “strong.”

But here’s the thing . . . 

I carefully overanalyze and weigh every single word before I speak to you.

I research what words can be of comfort in your particular situation. 

I search for memes that will make you smile. 

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I think about what it is that you would need the most from me at that very moment. 

I think about what it is that I would love if I were on the receiving end of my words.

I’m classified as “the strong one.” The one who’s always smiling, always happy. The one who seems to have no worries. The one who’s great with words. Knows just what to say. Always available.

I’ve definitely created a persona that is so foreign to what I see in the mirror.

Truth is, I’m not strong. I’m struggling.

Life terrifies me.

Friendships seem unattainable to me. 

I’m there for everyone, but my corner is deafeningly silent when I’m in need.

It’s probably my own fault though.

I don’t reach out for help. I grew up being taught I’m a burden and should be “seen, not heard.”

I learned to exist quietly. 

I learned that the minute you expose yourself as vulnerable and share your struggles and innermost disquieting thoughts, that’s the minute you hand a sword to the other person and allow them to stab you for the rest of your life.

That’s how I was conditioned.

So I don’t share my own struggles. My own fears, anxiety, and, at times, the all-consuming sadness and loneliness. I keep them safely locked up, and every morning, before even facing the mirror, I put my mask back on. 

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I don’t want to become an inhuman human being who can’t feel, and therefore I instead, help others.

I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a friend. A real friend. Someone who sees beyond that heavy mask and who takes the time to help me peel it off. 

Someone who would speak to me those words I speak to others. Words of comfort that I so long to hear too. 

But I know it’s wishful thinking in this fast-paced world. Nobody has that kind of time to show true interest in really getting to know a broken soul. And it’s okay. 

It’s oddly comfortable not to have to feel my own struggles. It’s comfortable not digging in to my own pain. I’m way better at providing comfort to others than facing my own jaded reality. 

I think I’ll be just fine.  

And instead, I’ll put my feelings into paint and transfer them onto a canvas. It sure makes a nice gift.

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