What Masks are You Wearing?

Tomorrow is Halloween (not exactly a news flash!) which, for a lot people, means putting on a costume and having a fun evening pretending to be someone they’re not.  Wearing different clothes and sliding a mask over your face (which could take the form of makeup instead of a traditional mask) makes you feel like you are someone else and it’s exciting, right?!

For one night, it’s nothing but pure fun and games.  But what about the other 364 days?

What masks are you wearing as you go about your day?

 

Are you Wearing a Mask?

The short answer to this is…yes, my dear, you are wearing a mask.  But how could I possibly know that?  Most likely, I don’t know you, so how can I know that you’re wearing a mask?

Because we all do.

@@In some for or another, we all put on a mask to present to the world.@@  

Some of us have many masks and some of us may only wear a few.  Some of us are very aware of the masks they don everyday, but a lot of us are blissfully unaware.

The masks we wear may be quite specific…there are masks for work, family, friends, church, and even yourself.

So what are my masks?  I wear the friend mask (with some, but not all of my friends), the work mask, the daughter mask, the sister mask, the blogger mask, and probably a few other masks that I’m either not aware of, or don’t want to admit even to myself.

We're all human like that.

 

Why we Wear Masks

@@Masks are simply a way to hide what we don’t want to show to others.@@  We assume what others think, want, and believe every single day.  I would wager that we’re usually wrong with our assumptions or that people really don’t care as much as we think (and if they do, why should we care?!).  And…a scarier thought…most of the time, people see right through them anyway.

But, at the heart of the matter is the desire to hide who we really are or what we really think.  It’s a survival mechanism that we learned very early on…especially women!  We’re taught as children to be nice, friendly, agreeable, etc. But maybe we don’t always feel like being nice, friendly, or agreeable!!

We learned it on our own as we tried to navigate the playground at school and wanted to fit in with the other kids….act like they do and they’ll like you.  We learned it when interviewing for jobs…say the right thing and appear professional and you’ll nail that interview.  There’s even a saying that promotes it…’fake it ’til you make it’!

We use masks to hide our insecurities, we use them to convince ourselves we’re something we’re not, and we use them to trick people into believing our world is picture perfect.

     Related Topic: Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

In other words, we wear masks for all occasions, all the time.

Buttttt…...

While it’s true that we go through the day exchanging one mask for another without even thinking, I also believe that most of us have a few people in our inner circle that gets to see us without any masks.  I bet you don’t even have to think too hard to know who those folks are…they popped into your mind instantly.  Now, think about those wonderful people for a minute…how long did it take to peel those layers off and how scary was it?  

 

Is it bad to wear masks?

I think it depends.  To not wear any masks would be to live a completely authentic and open life.  It would require you to be 100% comfortable with every aspect about yourself and to have no qualms with showing that to the world.

That’s a lofty aspiration, but I’m not sure how realistic it is.

I think it’s bad to wear masks that cause you to feel like you’re not living a life that is true to who you are.  An example of this would be someone that is working in a job that brings them no fulfillment or satisfaction.  To get through each day, they have to put a mask on to be the ideal employee so as not to lose their job.  But, it can be draining to do this day in and day out. 

I think it’s bad to wear masks that hide the true essence of who you are.  If you’re a smart, driven, outspoken woman that happens to be in a family that values quiet, demur women and you’re trying to fit into their mold, you’re trying to hide the amazing, beautiful person that you are and that’s not going to work in the long run.  The real you is going to be screaming to come out.

I think it's bad to wear masks to hide negative feelings and emotions.  It's okay to feel sad and to feel lonely, but it's not okay to hide those feelings from others.  You feel no one cares or you'd be judged, but let me assure you that you're wrong.  The people in your world will care and they won't judge you.  They're there to help you and you shouldn't suffer in silence.

But, I think it’s okay to wear masks if you’re using it to better yourself or it’s not violating who you really are beneath the mask.  For example, maybe you work in a male dominated industry where you wouldn’t be taken seriously if you flounced your emotions all over the place.  Let’s also say that you happen to love this job and you can’t imagine doing anything else.  Do you have to wear a mask to work to do your thing and to get ahead…you bet you do!  While you may be hiding part of who you really are (the emotional side) it’s allowing another part of you to flourish.  In this type of situation, I think it’s fine so long as you are aware of that and intentionally take the mask off and really indulge the other side of you in your off hours.  

I also think there are times or situations that require masks for the sake of society.  Let’s say your husband or partner works at a place that has regular social activities that require you to spend time with his colleagues and their partners.  Maybe you and the other partners don’t share a lot of things in common and they set your teeth on edge.  Do you have to wear a mask to fit in with them and pretend to be like them?  Some may say no, but in the interest of helping your partner, yes, you might well need to wear that mask.  But again, being aware of it and balancing it out with some time where you flit around mask free will help you keep your sanity!

     Related Topic:  The Importance of Living a Balanced Life

 

How to take a mask off

So…now I’ve got you thinking, right?  You scanning over your life and trying to figure out which masks you wear on a regular basis…good!  Some you may find are necessary, which is perfectly okay.  Just challenge yourself to balance it out.

You may also spot a few that aren’t necessary or that are in stark contrast to who you are and they make you feel bad.  If you are spotting some of those you might be asking what to do about that?!

I think the fact that you are noticing it is the perfect first step!  So, well done you!

But, now, how do you take it off?  I think it depends on the situation (yeah, I know…not too helpful!).  If, for example, you realize you’re wearing a mask to fit in at a job you hate, then it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.  You may not be able to take the mask off right away, but you can start doing things to get you on a different path and out of that job.

Maybe you realize that you’re wearing a mask around your mother-in-law because you think she wouldn’t approve of your thoughts, ideas, or true personality.  Perhaps this makes you dread your visits, feel drained and exhausted after spending time with her, or downright resentful and bitter.  If this is your situation (or something similar), then I advise you to proceed slowly. Test out the waters and see how she reacts.  Maybe you’ve been assuming she would mind and she really doesn’t.  Maybe she does mind, but you find you don’t really care.  I’m not advising you to create a hostile or difficult family environment, but test the waters and see what happens.  You have the right to be who you really are!

It'll take time to take off those masks you don’t want to wear and it may even change things in your life, but in the long run, it’ll change it for the better.

Are you wearing any masks? Do you think they’re okay or do you feel like it’s time to be brave, take it off, and show the world the real you? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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