The Masks We Wear

mask

I think most of us live our lives like everyday is Halloween. Just like trick-or-treating children who scurry after candy; we run around, identity hidden, trying to get the things we desire. But unlike those children, who dress up for a night of fun and turn back into themselves before bedtime, we stay disguised. We use our masks to hide who we truly are. The regalia changes often; day by day or even hour by hour. We have different masks for different moods, people and occasions. Some of us wear so many masks, so often, that we aren’t even sure what we really look like anymore. We get lost in a wardrobe of costumes and props that we originally collected to protect and hide our true selves and now even if we want to wear our real identity, we can’t. It is nowhere to be found.

I use these disguises for many reasons.  Sometimes, I wear mine to be liked, accepted, or loved; to “fit in”. Other times I wear them to appear strong when I don’t necessarily feel strong. I wear my defensive mask to guard against being proven wrong about something. I put the “happy” mask on to keep people from seeing that I feel like crying, because I don’t want to be perceived as weak. And if the happy mask isn’t cutting it, I use the tired one; it’s a pretty good cover for my real sadness. Needless to say, I have a lot of masks.

I’m trying to clean out the costume closet, searching for the real me; but it’s so scary. It makes me vulnerable, and I don’t like to be vulnerable; I have a costume for hiding that. I am terrified of this process. If someone doesn’t like me when I’m wearing a mask, I can blame the mask, but if I show them my true self (if I can ever find it) and they don’t like me, it will be the real me that they are rejecting. However, I’m discovering that the opposite is also true, if they like me and I’m wearing the mask, then they like the mask and not the real me and I still end up feeling bad about myself. So as frightened as I am, the costumes are going; slowly but surely.

I’m certain that it will be a struggle; just like a little kid pulls the blanket over his head when he’s scared, I will most likely grab one of my masks in a moment of doubt and try to hide. But I hope, that in time, I will have shown the real me to enough people to feel confident that she’s okay. I’m going to embrace the truth that some people will like me and some people won’t, but that doesn’t necessarily speak to my worth or character. Everyone has different tastes; if someone doesn’t like me, I’m just not their flavor. And if you catch me playing dress-up with my costumes and masks, go easy on me, old habits are hard to break.

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