Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.
This poem spoke to me when I was younger and has never stopped speaking to me. I don’t think I told my normal readers this, but I spent much of my life suffering from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I didn’t even know anxiety and panic attacks were not one in the same for a while there. So, I spent most of my time with my friends smiling and laughing and pretending I wasn’t a weird, anxious mess and at how if I panicked then I panicked and I wasn’t afraid of being judged because…I was panicking alone in my room. I hated it, but I also sort of learned to embrace it. The thing was, panicking alone in my room was more me than smiling and laughing with my friends. So Underface spoke to me because I felt like everyday I went outside wearing a mask. Some days I still feel like I’m wearing another face, but I also feel like it’s more okay than I did before this poem.
This poem helped me realize I was not the only person who wore a second face. It helped me realize there were other people who were a little less smiley and a little less sure than they pretended to be outside. I think most of these Shel Silverstein poems speak to me because they made me feel less alone. I smile when I find people who love his poetry like I do because every person is another person who understood what an underface was. It was another person who had heard the story of where the sidewalk ends. We were familiar even if we were strangers, and that was a beautiful thing.