As a kid, I was pretty solid in who I was and what I wanted, confident and determined, not giving much credence to what others thought of me. Then things shifted, and I started to feel like a fraud in my own body; like somehow the inside didn’t match the outside. I spent much of these years trying to make the inside and outside match, trying many masks. The result was a lot of pain, loneliness and feeling misunderstood, until I was ready to remove the facade and let it all show. It took a lot of hard work, honesty and self-examination to get back to the true me, sans any cover and comfortable in my own skin.
A mask is simply a covering of what is real. We wear masks for one night of celebration, pretending to be something we are not. The challenge comes when the night is over and we continue the façade of displaying something that is not real. We can get so caught up in a life that we think we are living, that we get lost in a world that is not ours, losing ourselves along the way.
Fear drives us
Our masks, comprised of shame and self-doubt, only serve to cover our shadows and shine the light on the parts we want others to see. We cannot trust the masks, for fear is the driving factor, demanding truth be set aside to show the fantasy of the desired image. We become so terrified as to what will happen if the mask slips and our shadow sides are revealed.
Therefore, we, as the wearers of the masks, become untrustworthy and as dependable as a chameleon, because reality is the nemesis to the survival of these counterfeit lives. The energy put in to keep a false reality going is exhausting. It might work for a short while, but living a life that is not ours, a face that does not belong to us, is just not sustainable, much less enjoyable.
There is a freedom in letting all of our parts be known. There might be days of being alone, yet isn’t it far better to be alone with a person you like then be in a crowd as a person you don’t? Then we end up in a circle that doesn’t feed our souls, only driving us further away from ourselves and towards a life that doesn’t fit our true being.
Wouldn’t it be easier in the long run, to accept each part of ourselves, even the icky ones, knowing that we can only change what is real. The healing process allows us to begin to release the tight grip we have on holding ourselves to this standard of perfection that is impossible to maintain, much less even reach.
Living without a mask
When we allow ourselves to live without a mask, we invite others to do the same, and the world is a lot less of a lonely place. We see each other for who we are, and form true relationships, navigating this complicated world together.
Not all days are perfect, and the temptation to hide creeps in every now and then. However, it is helpful to remember the reward for being ourselves is far greater than the short term comfort of any mask we could wear.