I Carry a Collection of Masks

"I would rather have a big burden and a strong back, than a weak back and a caddy to carry life's luggage"- Elbert Hubbard

I'm going to have a very strong back by the time the school year is done. The backpack I carry is so full that I must look like a freshman; it gets in the way, always bulging out like a mountain from the plane of my back. My bag is full of notebooks, textbooks, pens, pencils, and all sorts of other stuff. I carry things in it that I never use, yet let take up space, like a toothbrush and tooth paste and floss and hand sanitizer and tissues and Crystal Light Lemonade packets, because I never know when I'll need them. Other objects in my bag are constantly used: my cell phone for communication, my wallet with all my money and IDs, my calculator because some math just takes too long by hand, and my two flash drives, one full of homework and the other full of all the stories I'll never publish.

I also carry the important things. I always carry a copy of my favorite book, The Outsiders, because to me it's comfort food without the extra calories. I carry the keys to my parents' big, red, ten-year-old GMC Sierra that I love to drive and wish was mine. I carry my mp3 player with all my music ranging from Rascal Flatts to The Offspring to Toby Keith to The Sex Pistols so I can pretend that life has a soundtrack. I carry things that sustain life like water and snacks because G lunch is way too late in the day. I carry a watch on my wrist because I hate to be late. I carry a "To Do" list in my pocket complete with specific time slots for everything on it because nothing will get done otherwise.

I carry the stress of self imposed high expectations. I carry the strain of perfectionism- nothing is ever good enough. I carry the memories of things I've done wrong and the humiliation of failures like totaling my dad's car. I carry the determination not to make those mistakes again. I carry the realization that I'm so uptight because I fear losing my self-control. I carry the need for structure and routine because I can't seem to function without them. I carry the knowledge that makes me a know-it-all. I carry the fear of letting people into my life and the loneliness that results. I carry a collection of masks because I refuse to let anyone know the entirety of who I am.

I carry myself with pride, excessive as it is. I carry myself with the muscles that make up a good portion of my 180 pounds. I carry myself and all my burdens not only because I want the strong back of independence but also because I don't carry the trust to let a caddy do it.