This story evolved out of a real text conversation between Venice High POPS the Club graduate Anthony Cortez and Tyanni Gomez, Venice High senior and POPS the Club President.

Tyanni wrote: I thought I “knew” him through his stories, but I never knew him. Every time he messages me back on this subject, I feel like I’m talking to myself. It’s not bad. It’s recovery. Are we the same? Not the story, but the way we feel. We wear a mask to not get asked.

He: Do you wear a mask?

She: Yeah, right when I walk out of the house. What about you?

He: When I look into the mirror, I don’t like what I see.

She: What is it that you don’t like—if I may ask.

He:  I don’t like what I see because I see all of my mistakes and failures, people I have hurt and let down, I carry this all in my head, I wear a mask so no one asks what’s wrong. I’m afraid I am on my own and no one can relate.

She: Everyone has a mask. Everyone is afraid that they are on their own. That’s part of life. We take responsibilities with the actions we take, but staying in the past won’t help. Accept the mistakes. Accept the failures. People will get hurt or let down. Now I know why I do too.

He: So why do you wear a mask—if I may ask.

She: My face changes right when I walk out the door and when people see me they think, “Oh she’s always happy.” Little do they know the ones that smile hurt the most. It’s more of the past when I’m alone. I start to rethink every situation. I think the worst question I hear throughout the day is, “How are you?” because when I wear that mask, I lie.

He: I agree, the ones who seem most happy and giving to everyone else, over themselves, I believe are the ones who have seen pain and suffered. I am always thinking and over-thinking situations. Regret is my enemy. I hate the question “How are you?” Honestly I wish it never existed because sometimes I want to rant, let it all out, but I’m not going to waste anyone’s time with my problems.

She: Overthinking is strange, as if you get controlled by it and it bothers the living hell out of you. We wish it never existed, and some others may feel that way too. “How are you?” are just three pathetic little words that make the person asking think they care.

He: I don’t like when someone pretends they care when in reality they could care less.

She: We just wear a mask to not get asked. 

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