Pull Off the Mask.

Story - Emery F. - as told to Holly Poole.

Ah, the joys of being sixteen. It’s hard, it’s awkward, and there is no outfit in the world that can make you feel beautiful and confident enough at times. I’ve been there (not very long ago, actually), and so has Emery. A sixteen-year-old that is wise beyond her years because she knows something that most of us still don’t: how to be courageous in who she is.

Emery is somewhat of an introvert. For most of her life, she would tell you that she enjoys reading a good book most of all in the privacy of her own home, alone, and as far away from people as possible. Like many other introverted personalities, she viewed building relationships as a task that took away from her precious personal time. She loved doing nothing; why bother with people when being alone is just fine?

Then, she had a wake up call…

Emery was sent away to the Capital to attend a Civics-focused Student Leadership program called Teenpact. She was not happy about this at first. This program would force her out of her comfort zone—away from her solitude and into a new territory filled with new people. The results, of course, was that Emery expanded her views incredibly and acquired a newly found voice despite her quiet nature. She encountered amazing people who were doing amazing things, and Emery found that her heart and mind was stirring with new-found passion. When she compared her lifestyle to those around her she saw, “they were changing their generation, and I was doing nothing.” She saw this and said, “I am ready to change the world; to make a difference in my culture. I need to start doing something.” Although that is something that most of us all say at some point or another, Emery decided she was going to take the action necessary to achieve this—she was going to break away the mask that held her back from all the things God has in store for her.

Like many young teens, Emery was introduced to a culture-shock of sorts, being exposed to non-Christians for the first time and being forced out of her shell. For her, it was at Teenpact and also at a theater camp she attended later on this past summer. Both of these events forced her into stressful social situations where she had to not only accept the relationship of other people, but also put herself out there. It took extreme confidence, courage even, to be able to do this. I remember myself at 16 and wanting so badly to do important or exciting things but not having the courage. Emery took not a step, but a giant, head-first plunge into breaking out of her fears. That is something that most of us have been working up the courage to do for most of our lives.

“At the beginning of the year Pastor Poole and a few others had prophesied about me coming out from behind the mask. I realized that serving God didn’t have to look the way my mom did it. She was always up and about and getting in front of crowds and a people-person and all of that scared me to the core. It is funny, looking back, because I am totally comfortable with all of that and I seem more like her than ever.”

The masks Emery had been hiding behind are being removed continually, she says to those who are insecure in their identity, “the only way to be confident is to open yourself up and to pull off the mask... you discover who you truly are. And you are beautiful.”