Some days, she really wished she could just keep her mouth shut. Maybe tape it up, or zip it…or whatever other methods were out there that would keep her from opening it, letting out her voice, and unleashing a thousand mistakes that she would regret five seconds after she'd made them. Usually, she was the quiet one, in the back of the room, observing everyone else. With new people, she felt awkward and out of place and, when there were no words for her to use, as her mind raced to find them, she could feel her skin heating. The warmth of embarrassment and awkwardness would creep up her neck, burning her ears, making her skin flame until she wished she wasn't here, wished she could be anywhere else.

"I trusted the wrong people," she told someone without realizing that the someone she told was yet another person she shouldn't trust with her words.

Words seemed to just spill out of her mouth, her heart was splattered all over her sleeve, and, within five seconds of meeting a person, they would possess her entire life's history.

Making friends was hard for she'd made so many mistakes in the past with them. She'd liked the wrong ones, been hurt far too often, and, though she vowed she'd be smarter the next time, she never was. All it took was a person being nice to her, making her feel comfortable and POP! Out would come those damnable words. Words that could be used against her.

Words that were used against her.

Words that would turn on her and hurt her.

It was a crazy cycle, one she wasn't sure she knew how to break. She wished she were smarter, that she knew exactly how to handle people.

Well, she did know how to handle people…just as long as she was handling their problems and not her own. When it came to solving her own troubles and dilemmas, she was clueless. Blind as a bat.

Which was why mistakes were her forte. Which was why she found herself crying late into the night and early in the morning when there was no one around to hear her.

She was supposed to be a fearless leader, and so a fearless leader she would be. She wouldn't show her weaknesses to her followers, to those who looked to her for guidance. They didn't deserve to have the weight of her pain put upon them. No one did.

So she carried on, battling silently in her war against herself, trying to find a way to stop the pain, trying and failing consistently to learn how to learn.

Masks became her specialty. She put one on every morning, effortlessly and seamlessly. It had just become a part of her ritual, her daily routine. She'd become so adept at it that she was sometimes afraid that she had no idea who she truly was. Other times, she'd look in the mirror and see someone unrecognizable but certainly and unfortunately herself.

That someone she would see was ugly, hideous. Who could ever like her? She was lazy, she needed to exercise, she had a belly, for crying out loud! What self-respecting girl let herself go the way she had? No one, she would answer herself. No one but she.

The masks were an attempt to hide this ugly girl from everyone else. After all, no one liked ugly people. She knew that. It was just a normal part of life. Some days, she wanted to become the girl that the mask showed. She never wanted to go back to what she truly was, but, each night, the mask would come off, and the unattractive, unloveable girl was right there, staring back at her in the mirror.

If she'd been famous, she certainly would have earned the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was skilled at becoming the girl that other people wanted to be around. The ugly girl would win no companions, but the actress certainly did. The actress had plenty of friends—as long as she never dropped her façade, as long as she never forgot her role. The only time she was ever herself was when she was alone…and, at times, not even then.

But she slipped. Not quite so often, but she did. Sometimes, the self-directed fury that screamed at her to just be herself would push aside the mask. And then things would go horribly wrong.

People would talk in secret about her, while others speculated on what the hell was wrong with her. Why on earth was she such a stuck up bitch? Why couldn't she just be the person they thought they'd been friends with? Why did she want to open a can of worms?

Why? Why? WHY?

It was in those moments that she'd realize that there was no one who'd cared enough to cut through the masks and find her. Understand her. Some had tried, but all had failed.

She was the un-understandable social outcast, who was better off staying just that.

It was in those moments that she decided she was better off staying away from people, so that their lives would go on peacefully. Why should they be annoyed because she was? Why should she disrupt their enjoyment of life?

She shouldn't.

It was in those moments of retreat and solitude that she realized there was no one who cared enough to come after her. And she'd wonder at what lack there was in her that they didn't care.

It was in those moments that she would ache to the core of her bones with loneliness. Pure and utter loneliness.

She'd gone to college, hopeful that she would finally, finally find people who understood her for once. All those stories, all those movies, television shows, afterschool specials that depicted college as the place where a person would find her niche, would find the best friends in her entire life—they were all wrong.

At least, they were wrong for her.

She'd seen all the other girls—imperfect but still lovely, still confident, still blossoming and becoming comfortable with themselves—she'd seen them find their place in the great circle of life. They'd found their best friends for life, they'd found the people who understood them, they even liked themselves.

And she hadn't. Couldn't. Was afraid she never would.

Loneliness ripped her heart to bloody shreds then backed up and did it all over again.

Pleasedon'tpleasedon'tpleasedon'tpleasedon't

Please don't make me bleed anymore than I already have. Some days, I just want to construct a giant shield and hide behind it, so that no one will see me, no one will hurt me, no one no one no one.

Because maybe it's better being alone. Because maybe it's better to not be seen than to hurt this way, day in and day out. Because maybe it's better to cry yourself to sleep and wake up weeping than it is to have hurtful things hurled at you from all sides by the people you dared to open yourself up to.

Because I put a weapon—my blind trust—in their hands, and really, it's my fault that they're able to maim me each day.

Because I'm so very afraid, so very, very, very afraid that I'll never find that one person who will understand me like no one before ever has. That one person who will understand when I want to be stood up for and when I need that support. That one person who won't let me get away when I retreat into my shell.

I'm so very, very, very afraid that I'll spend my life with someone who will never reach the essential core of me.

Then again, it's practically a certain thing.

No one else ever has, not even my family…so why, why, why would anyone else?