Behind the Mask

Everybody wants freedom.

I know an adolescent who’s already self loathing. Most words that shoot out of her mouth regularly cause pain to herself and/or others. She is often seen in a hood that covers half of her face. She has piercings on her face that cause me to wonder what her parents think about her choice. When she talks her hand covers her mouth. Her favorite answer to the most basic questions is “I don’t know.” She is often in trouble for petty rule breaking acts.

We worked on an assignment one day called “Passion Speech.” Students were to share their main passion in life. After working with her, or at least trying to work with her, for a few minutes I became frustrated. Her wall of resistance caused me to lose my cool.

I tried to connect with her one more time. I sat next to her and asked her “What’s your passion?”

To my surprise she did not say “I don’t know,” she responded “Star Wars.”

I asked her two or three more questions to which she answered “I don’t know.” I asked her to give me one word that describes Star Wars. To which she answered “FREEDOM.”

At that moment I could see behind her mask. I said to myself “That explains it.” That’s when my mind opened to see the reasons behind her behavior. At that moment I understood why she had admirers. Other young people admired her because she oozed the desire for freedom. She desires freedom to live a life she chooses. But perhaps most importantly she just needed someone to understand that. She began to hate herself because she is constantly in trouble to living out a passion from which she can’t detach.

She’s an adolescent and the way she attempts to live out her desire for freedom is flawed; but I understand the sentiment of her heart. She wants what we all want.

We want freedom.

We want boundlessness.

We want walls to come down on our lives and to break down barriers.

We want limits to leave.

We want wings to fly.

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