I’ve always hidden behind a veil, a curtain of lies that covered all aspects of myself. These deceitful curtains became my wall, my safety net that hid my individuality that I believed was full of flaws and my self-worth – which I thought was nothing.
I began to pretend, and the thing about pretending is that if you do it long enough, it becomes one’s reality. I no longer knew the boundary between who I was and this persona that I had created. It was so easy to be someone else, someone besides myself. I was captivated by that role and soon casted it as my own.
I began to use the veil in middle school. Growing up, puberty was not kind to me. I had a lot of hair, especially facial hair. The way I looked was not up to par with society’s standards of what a girl should look like and due to my appearance, my self-esteem suffered and plummeted in a continuous downward spiral.
The veil was primarily used as a shield to defend myself from bullies. I became silent, rigid, emotionless, and afraid on the outside. I was in constant fear of being attacked. My aggressors never attacked me physically but they did mentally. Even though my wounds were not visible on the surface, they were apparent on the inside. Keeping quiet only made the pain worse.
Being bullied is an experience that slowly wears you down. It’s hard to believe that words have the capacity to cause so much damage. You always hear, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. So many times I wished for broken bones over the verbal abuse that made me cry every day. At that time I believed that broken bones would be the better alternative, since I felt that my emotional wounds would never heal.
The bullying got worse as time progressed. My shield was wearing out, close to breaking, but I would not cry in front of my bullies. I would not let them have the satisfaction of knowing that they broke me. That shield was all I had left and I wasn’t going to give that up. It was always me against them and I wasn’t ready to hand over my pride.
My shield eventually broke. It broke on the way to school in a crowded bus full of kids. As tears streamed down my face that day, I wondered why I was hated so much. Why me? Why me?
I came to college and I wiped the slate clean only to slowly put on the veil again. I became this jokester, clown. I was funny in order to hide my insecurities. I convinced myself that the laughter of people brought me joy, but selfishly I knew that I cared nothing for that. I just cared that these people that I didn’t give a shit about, wanted to be my friend. I got my wish, but as time passed by, people treated me different. I was funny, but that’s was it. Nobody saw past that because that’s all that my persona was. While hiding behind the veil I began questioning my actions. I love laughter, but my twisted conception of it was wrong. I acted out for attention and became known as this reject clown who didn't take things seriously. I then realized that I had been hiding behind the veil and was tired of the façade.
I hid behind the veil because I felt that my true self wasn’t worthy. I believed that for so long that it became my mentality and I changed everything about myself. I faked it for so long that when I finally emerged from behind the veil, I no longer knew who I was or the person I had been. I had taken over a fake persona for so long, I had forgotten the things that made me, me. My quirks, my interest, my hobbies were all dictated by a false identity.
When I finally freed myself from the deception of the veil, I was now in a situation where I no longer knew who I was. I had been pretending for so long that I was now lost. I escaped the veil only to walk out into darkness. At first, I was walking blindly, not knowing what to do. Every step I took was full of uncertainty. The fragments of my old self were only spectacles of dust that I could not fix – or so I thought.
It took me many years to realize that I didn’t have to be ashamed of being me, I needed to be proud to be myself. I shamed myself for years, believing that I wasn't smart enough, pretty enough, or good enough. All these qualities I hid about my former self, why did I possibly think they were flawed? I used to be loud, opinionated, and full of ambition. I’m trying hard to regain these beautiful qualities that I used to believe were defective.
I now use the veil as an example of a life lesson to remind me that I have moved on from that chapter in my life. I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to show off my individuality, I must embrace it. At this point in my life, I’m still figuring out who I am, but this time I don’t need the veil because I no longer wish to hide myself nor do I feel the need to.