Paint Brush


I keep my paint brush with me
Where ever I may go
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show
I’m so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you’ll do – that
You might laugh or say mean
I’m afraid I might lose you

I’d like to remove all my paint
To show you the real, true me
But I want you to try and
I need you to accept what you see
So if you will be patient and close
Your eyes
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow
Please understand how much it
To let the real me show

Now all my coats are stripped off
I feel naked, bare and cold
And if you still love with all
That you see
You are my friend, pure as gold
I need to save my paintbrush
And hold it in my hand
I want to keep it handy
In case somebody doesn’t
So please protect me, my dear
And thanks for loving me true
But please let me keep my paint
Brush with me
Until I love me too

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  1. AH on July 28, 2020 at 3:10 PM

    This poem really hit in a place of understanding for me. The pain of feeling ashamed of oneself and the need to cover it up to appeal to others is such a heartbreaking theme. I think that your specific portaryl of this pain is especially nuanced. You treat the reader as a close friend, one who you cant trust and depend upon to support you even when your feeling vulnerable. I loved how you did not end the poem with a statement that resolved your pain, I love how you acknowledge that life is not perfect that you still need to learn to accept yourself despite the love of another. Love is such a powerful thing, but it can’t fix all wounds no matter how much fairytales like to make us think that they do. coupled with love from others we have to learn to love ourselves. I really hope that you reach a point where you can love yourself, and I hope that you keep writing poems like this.

  2. Billie Marcheva on August 2, 2020 at 11:00 PM

    Hi, TD,

    This poem means a lot to me personally because I’ve also been struggling with the concept of accepting myself, let alone revealing myself to others. I realized the validation has to come from me, from within, and that’s the journey I’m working on right now.

    They say being vulnerable with people is how you build meaningful connections. It’s hard though. I want to thank you for showing yourself in your poetry and sharing it. You are brave and you are strong.

  3. Allie Ruggiero on August 25, 2020 at 5:09 PM

    I really enjoyed your poem because a lot of other readers and myself are able to relate to your poem because sometimes we hide our true selves because we are afraid of judgement and we aren’t comfortable with who we are. You can tell how much emotion you put in your poem and how powerful your emotions are. My favorite line of your poem was, “I feel naked, bare and cold and if you still love with all you see, you are my friend, pure as gold.”, this is because even though we don’t feel comfortable at times, there are true friends who won’t judge us and who will love us even through our darkest moments and we cherish those friends forever. I loved this poem and it will forever stick to me because I relate to it so much. It also made me realize that sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone because there’s no better way to grow and it’s a new challenge. Even though it might be scary, it’ll be worth it. You are never alone. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this poem, it’s amazing.

  4. Sarah S. on August 30, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    This is such a beautiful poem, TD, and I think one that would resonate with a lot of people. So many of us are afraid of showing our true selves to the world, and so we hide under layers: of toughness, sarcasm, whatever it may be, just to avoid exposing ourselves to the world for fear we might be mocked. The Free Minds community supports you no matter what, and I hope you eventually feel comfortable revealing your true self to more people. I hope that you can love yourself too, because that is one of the most difficult things to do, but it is a beautiful and important goal.

    Your poem reminded me of a famous poem by William Arthur Ward; I hope you like it.


    To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
    To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
    To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
    To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
    To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
    To love is to risk not being loved in return,
    To hope is to risk despair,
    To try is to risk failure.

    But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
    The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
    He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
    But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
    Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
    Only a person who risks is free.

    The pessimist complains about the wind;
    The optimist expects it to change;
    And the realist adjusts the sails.

    William Arthur Ward

  5. Tara C on September 1, 2020 at 7:55 PM

    Thank you for sharing such a lovely poem about how you express your true identity, and how you might hide that same identity from the people around you. I love the analogy you made between the paint brush and your feeling of needing to hide. This is definitely a universal experience where people feel as though they need to portray themselves in different ways when they are around different people. This is all part of our process for discovering our identity, sharing it with others, and maturing.

  6. Olivia on September 8, 2020 at 9:08 AM

    Wow! This poem showed deep meaning with how to love yourself first. I can easily picture myself in this situation which is good because that means that other people can relate to your poem. It will take time to figure out who you are, and having a paintbrush to cover yourself is a good idea, but it’s hiding who you are. Continue to open up so you can find yourself and so others can meet you! This was an amazing poem and I hope you find a way to love yourself and not hide behind paint.

  7. Anna on September 8, 2020 at 9:13 AM

    This is incredible! I want to say that you are no alone. So many are afraid to show people their true selves in fear people will hurt them or not understand. This is the best representation of this feeling that I have ever seen. I loved how you used paint as your way of hiding, but truly the art, your true self, is underneath all of the paint. I hope that you continue to push yourslef and peel layer away to allow people to get to know you. Surround yourself with people, minds, books, and things that represent what you really want in life. Each day continue to peel back the layers for yourself becuase you are worth loving. It won’t be easy, but one day I hope that you can put your paintbrush down for good. Please keep writing and sharing your story.

  8. nicolegleason on September 16, 2020 at 11:13 PM

    I love your using the paint brush as an analogy for having to cover up your true self to loved ones out of fear of rejection. The last line is particularly powerful as you reveal that your holding onto the paint brush is as much for your own safety and comfort as it is for theirs. It is a defense mechanism to protect yourself and others around you.
    The paint analogy is perfect because paint can be washed off and reapplied. If you let it come off, your true self will be revealed. if needed you can repaint or take it off as needed.
    Very lovely poem. The simple structure suits it- very to the point and the repetition of the word paint brush emphasizes its importance.

  9. Alec on September 29, 2020 at 6:36 PM

    TD your poem was very deep and I really connected to it. For a long time growing up I was the same way I would hide myself from people afraid of what they would think of me. Even in college there are times where I feel like I need to hide myself but I no longer try to let that control me. Growing up like you said in your poem that once you show yourself to someone if they accept you then they are your true friend. If you show yourself to someone and they don’t like what they see then they are the ones missing out. One part that went along with this for me was wanting to make everyone happy and like me. Through the years though I have realised that I don’t need to make others happy more than I need to make myself happy. TD let me tell you it is difficult at times but I know you will be able to love yourself and let others see you for you because they will love who you are. I’m really happy you shared this poem. I know it’s not an easy thing to do. Your writing skills are very good and I hope you continue to keep doing it. I wish you well.

  10. Angela on September 29, 2020 at 8:05 PM

    This poem absolutely captures a very human struggle, and it resonated with me deeply. Thank you for being so vulnerable in writing this and giving us a glimpse of the real you.

  11. Kellyn on September 29, 2020 at 8:07 PM

    This poem and the metaphor you use are beautiful. I love the message about real friends being people who love your true self. You deserve to love your true self as much as the person in your poem does.

  12. Toby K LaMarche-Deutchman on September 29, 2020 at 8:26 PM

    This is wonderful. You write of the hiding we all do for fear we won’t be loved if we are seen. You are already special … your words tell me so. I wish for you to find people who see you, even through the paint. Keep writing. You speak to us all. And know that you are worthy of your own love. Thank you for this poem.

  13. Joshua Redd on September 29, 2020 at 10:08 PM

    Thank you so much for inviting us into understanding your own creative projects and the way you use these creative inclinations to represent and speak to yourself and the world.

  14. Emma on September 30, 2020 at 11:20 AM

    I really love your poem, VT. I love the idea of a paintbrush and coats of paint to talk about walls that people put up to protect themselves. It can be really hard to peel those coats of paint, but can also be very freeing. Thank you for sharing this, I really hope you continue to write!

  15. Piper on October 6, 2020 at 11:50 AM

    The imagery and metaphors in this were stunning! This is something I think a lot of people also relate to. We all try and change to fit in better or get love from people we’re not sure would love us for the real us. As cheesy as it is, it reminds me of the quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky. Sometimes these changes are harmless like using different slang or vocabulary with friends or in a professional setting, but sometimes it hurts us. Sometimes we change too much and forget who we really are. So I really loved this poem’s main ideas!

  16. Sierra on October 11, 2020 at 10:26 PM

    TD, I absolutely love this poem. It really digs deep into what people with mental health issues feel on a daily basis. The writing made me feel sorrow for the person who is having these troubles but also happiness to be able to reveal one’s true self to someone they care deeply about.

  17. kassidilenae on October 13, 2020 at 12:24 PM


    Thank you for taking the time to write this poem. It is difficult to come to terms with the realities of ourselves, especially the ones we consider ugly. Gaining the confidence and self-love to reveal our true selves is a difficult path. I wish you the best, and I am confident that you can do this when you surround yourself with people that support you.


  18. Joyce on October 13, 2020 at 5:03 PM

    Dear TD,

    This is such a creative poem! I love the use of the paintbrush metaphor, it is so clever. I love to paint, so the use of this metaphor really resonates with me. I think this poem is relatable to most people. We typically hide our true selves, especially with strangers, and slowly open up and uncover ourselves to those we truly trust and love. You express this message and emotion so well and so clearly, even through the use of a metaphor. You describe the pain and insecurity associated with this process in a beautiful way. I hope you, and all of us, can become more confident in loving ourselves! Thank you for this wonderful poem.

    Best wishes,

  19. N. B. on October 15, 2020 at 5:20 PM

    I love this poem! On the technical side, it has a powerful, consistent metaphor throughout, as well as metered rhyme that make it a joy to read. In terms of content and meaning, it hits the nail right on the head. The whole thing startled me a bit, but only because I’ve felt the exact way before about my relationship with others. As a beginner painter (mostly watercolor, but some acrylic), I have an appreciation for the way you thoughtful threaded this metaphor together. Thank you for providing a beautiful new lens to think through!

  20. Alexandra on October 18, 2020 at 4:29 PM

    TD, this is a very powerful poem about being vulnerable that I relate to. Sometimes it is so hard to expose yourself and show others your true self in fear of being hurt. But those who truly love and care about you will accept you for exactly who you are.

  21. Lindsay on October 18, 2020 at 4:33 PM

    TD, what a deep and touching poem! I know what it feels like to not belong somewhere, to conform to society but I am so glad you are slowly pealing your layers back. Continue to show the world your true colors, and you’ll find people who love you for you. I know It is scary to be vulnerable, so keep the paintbrush in your back pocket. Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.

  22. Stella on October 18, 2020 at 4:42 PM

    TD, your poem leaves such a strong message. It is beautifully written and shows your emotions and feelings in a very relatable way. I love how you get to the point to be brave enough and remove your paint brushes to show the real you! That is truly a big step and I hope and I am sure that you will also be able to let go of the paint brush and love yourself! Please continue writing, I would love to see more of it.

  23. Jacob on October 20, 2020 at 7:36 PM

    Your poem really spoke to me about how people experience and give trust. It really goes to show that we never really show our true selves to everyone, but by peeling off our layers a little bit at a time we can open up to one another. The flow of your writing is beautiful, and it really sends a large message about trust and identity in such few words. I love this poem a lot, thanks for writing! 🙂

  24. Bryan on October 20, 2020 at 7:59 PM

    This is a really deep poem that is beautifully written. I liked your decisions on your spacing between different lines and words because it added emphasis on certain meanings. I also thought the rhythm was awesome and it flowed so well. The rhyme was also great and it was overall one of the best poems I’ve read. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Jescie Roberts on October 20, 2020 at 10:18 PM

    Hi TD, must I just say WOW in the fact that I too relate to this poem so much in my everyday life! I feel like in the world we live in, there is such a standard to how we live or look and sometimes it is hard to let your real self show because we do not want to be mocked by others. The use of the paint brush analogy is super interesting to me because I have never thought about how sometimes we “paint our best face” in order to look perfect in society! Again, I loved this poem and I encourage you to keep writing!

  26. Katrina on October 21, 2020 at 7:49 AM

    This poem is amazing!It absolutely resonated with me.The concept of identity and self-acceptance is one I have dealt with still deal with and this poem expresses that so well!Thank you for sharing!

  27. Carolyn on October 30, 2020 at 3:18 PM

    TD, Wow, this was so incredibly powerful! I felt like I was sitting in a room with all your pain and fears and it was so moving. Your words resonated so much with me, because I too feel like I need and do wear paint coats to protect my true self from others, afraid that they won’t like the real me; to hope that someday a friend is willing to stay and help you peel back those layers. I struggle to express exactly how meaningful this poem was to me; absolutely beautiful.

  28. Phuong Nguyen on October 30, 2020 at 3:30 PM

    The feeling of isolation, to hide away from others, we have all been there and felt the same way. Thank you so much for putting this poem out there, to show those that feel the same way, that they are not alone!

  29. Angela on October 31, 2020 at 4:20 PM

    This poem resonates with me so strongly. You are not alone in these feelings, and I hope you find people who make you feel safe without your paintbrush.

  30. ken on November 2, 2020 at 11:33 AM

    The rhythm of this poem is so good! And the meaning behind it is understandable and deep. It is hard to love yourself and hard to allow other people to see the real you! Keep up the good work and don’t stop writing!!

  31. JM on November 3, 2020 at 2:38 PM

    Dear TD,

    Thank you for sharing this poem– it definitely requires removing a few paint coats to write something like this, and that’s an act of bravery that deserves to be commended. I really liked the way that this poem was rhythmic and playful while also talking about a serious topic. The metaphor of paint covering up our true selves was so impactful, because paint can be vibrant and expressive, but you’re also right to say that it can conceal as well. Despite being about masks, this poem really gave me a sense of an authentic and unique voice behind it and that was inspirational to me– we could all use a bit more authenticity, and more safe places to be authentic, in daily life. Thanks again for sharing.


  32. Natalie D. on November 11, 2020 at 3:03 PM

    Hi TD, your poem is beautiful. I love your metaphorical use of the coats of paint being the layers of who you are as an individual and your paintbrush being handy when you feel like there needs to be a safety net or barrier between you and others. You definitely made me teary eyed towards the end because I can relate to others loving me but needing to make sure that I’m loving me as well. Again, beautiful piece.

  33. Maggie on December 11, 2020 at 6:30 PM

    This poem does a really good job of catching emotion and trying to tell people who the real you is. I also really liked how the end talks about finding your true people and helping people love the real you.

  34. Arionna on December 14, 2020 at 3:53 PM

    Dear TD,
    I connected with you when you shared that you carried around a paint brush wherever you go to hide the real you. Like you, I wanted to change the way I looked and acted based on the people I surrounded myself with and instead of being myself, I put on my own personal “paint coat” to hide the real me. I was afraid of being judged, but once I found the people who I could be comfortable around I carried my “paint brush” with me less and less. I believe that everyone has their own “paint brush” to keep others from seeing who they truly are, not just you or me. Self-love is a process and can take a long time to achieve, but once you start stripping off the coats of paint it becomes easier for people and yourself to accept the real you. Thank you for sharing with us how you felt. You made me and others feel less alone.

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