Community//

The masks we wear

When do you get to take off your masks? Where can you just be you?

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We all wear masks. There are always times and situations where we have to alter our personality in some way. Whether it’s putting on a fake smile when your boss’s boss is around or sitting up straight and watching your mouth when you’re at grandmas house or pretending to be excited when the local football team scores a homerun. There are always times that we have to play pretend, even if it’s just for a bit. We can’t always say everything we want to say or do everything we want to do. There’s a time and place for certain things. There are social conventions to honor. There are plenty of times that we have to bite our tongues or swallow a comment or compromise when we really don’t want to. There has to be a reprieve from that though. There has to be a time and place that you can take those masks off. You can’t do “method acting” for your life. “Fake it till you make it” isn’t supposed to be forever. When do you take your mask off? Who sees what’s underneath? Who are you when there’s nothing to hide behind? I’m very protective of my home space because it is where I can just be me. There’s no faking or pretend in my home space. I’m safe to be whoever I am in my home. Where can you go where you don’t have to have one hand holding your mask up? Where can you go and be completely free? Where is “home base” where you’re safe? Where do you, the real you, reside? 

There is a poem called Masks by Shel Silverstien. Two people with blue skin searching for others like them but since they are both wearing masks they walk past each other not knowing that what they’ve been searching for is right there. We miss out on finding someone who will love all the parts we think are unlovable if we hide them. We want people to love and accept every part of us but we hide so many parts of ourselves. How can someone accept us for who we really are if we’re not being ourselves? If we’re wearing our masks then we’re depriving them of even the opportunity to love and accept the real us. We are deciding for them what is able to be accepted. We’re forcing our judgements onto others. “They won’t like me if XYZ” so we hide it away and don’t let them decide for themselves if it’s something they can accept. We have things we don’t like about ourselves and so we assume that no one else will like those things either. It’s hard for us to fathom that someone can be accepting of things about us that we aren’t accepting of. We would rather our masks be loved and not the real us than to risk any kind of rejection. So we live our lives half loved by people that couldn’t love all of us or unseen by the people looking for everything we’re hiding. Even if we can’t love all the parts of ourselves we need to at least accept that they are a part of us. In that acceptance we can be open to the possibility that someone else can accept, and maybe even love, the parts of us that we hide. 

We want people to be open with us yet we hide ourselves. We want to be trusted yet we don’t trust. We decide on our own that there’s no one in the entire world that will love us unconditionally as our true selves. We unilaterally decide that the real us is shameful and should be kept in the shadow. We are so concerned with others accepting us that we can’t accept ourselves. Putting so much time and energy into perfecting the mask keeps us from observing and accepting what’s underneath. It also prevents us from finding the people that would love the things we wish weren’t there. We do a disservice to the people in our lives by hiding who we are but we also do a disservice to the people who are searching for us while we’re pretending to be someone else. There is someone, or more than one someones, that is looking for exactly what you have to offer but if you don’t wear your blue skin proudly then they’ll walk right by you. And you’ll spend your life wondering why no one sees you. Rejection by people who don’t accept you completely is worth it if it gives you the chance to be completely loved and accepted for who you really are. Show up in all your wonderfulness and let people love you just as you are.

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