Originally published May 18, 2021
It has been a long day at work or at school, you’re tired and hungry and spent. You get home to your loving family and they are immediately asking how are you doing? How was your day? All you want to do is kick off your shoes, throw your bag down and head to the kitchen to have something to eat. Instead, you put a smile on your face and engage that your day was really good and productive. Before you know it, company comes to the door. Your smile becomes wider and you feel more irritated than before. But for the sake of everyone else, you put you’re ‘I’m fine’ mask on and engage. The night ends with you resenting everyone, perhaps there was an argument, perhaps you agreed to more engagement…the list goes on. Why did you put the mask on?
What is a mask? Well, it is a mask we put on to hide how we actually feel. We probably have many, those we’ve been handed down from over generations, ones we have created to protect ourselves and ones we live in far longer than we care to admit. Masks can serve their purpose however.
Perhaps we are grieving and just don’t want to keep telling our stories, so we ‘pretend’ to be okay to mask the sadness. Perhaps we are really only surviving and just don’t have it in us to tell our story one more freaking time. Perhaps, we need the mask to feel more uplifted (face it until we make it?). But I wonder how long these masks really do assist us in dealing with life. I wonder how long we live in them and if they really serve us?
An addict had finally kicked his addiction, went home just to last a few months before he started to use again. He put on his mask of sobriety which eventually he kicked off because it just wasn’t him and he needed help.
I’ve worn the mask of super mom, family keep together-er, reliable friend, courageous and bold woman just to take them off or have them fall off as they no longer fit me. It is hard to be ourselves, to show our true selves in vulnerability and struggle, to show ourselves and risk judgement, pain or perceived ridicule. We gain new beliefs of not being good enough, or expand on the beliefs we already carry deep inside of us when we use the masks to live ‘appropriately’ or ‘expectedly’ in. When does our true self come out to shine?
Our true self comes out from the darkness, from being hidden when we decide that what we wear no longer fits. Maybe the reason we started to wear that mask worked in the beginning, but I imagine it may no longer work for you. It now has become your crutch. Perhaps it has even become your way of living, the mask no longer is a mask but your ‘true self’.
I think once we really see ourselves and have a deep understanding for who we are, we can create change. Once the awareness becomes real, the story in our head becomes distorted and the voice we hear about our lives can change to ourselves. We can then put the STOP sign up to say no, this isn’t what I want to be. This isn’t how I want to feel anymore. From here we can challenge every belief, ask for evidence and really put that old story back into the book it came from.
We deserve to be vulnerable, we have the capacity for change and for self love. Do you believe that?
Perhaps that is where you must start so you can start taking the masks off that no longer fit you.
May the beauty of what you love be seen in you.