Masks: We All Wear Them

This one time, I went to Greece, and saw this statue

Have you ever felt like you’re faking your way through life? I have. Our faces are masks, displaying what we hope the world will see. We can project only what we want, and hide the rest within ourselves. Our clothes are layers that cover scars accumulated over the years. Makeup paints a face completely invented, possibly fake. No one has to know.

On my blog I wear a mask, as do all bloggers. The internet is the easiest place to display tiny bits of information. We can fabricate every detail, sculpt what we maybe wish was la verdad (truth). We withhold our identities, names, souls, locations (understandably, for our own safety). We let readers in only so far, slamming the doors in their faces when they are unwelcome.

There are people in our lives (and bloggers) who are those “open books.” They travel to the depths of their pain and spill stories some may consider too personal. This could be therapeutic. Maybe it’s engrained in their personalities to wash off their makeup, peel away the layers, and lift the masks away from their faces.

Yet at times, everyone has worn a mask. Some for years, others for only specific periods of their daily lives. At work when we want to look put together. For our friends who need us to listen and forget about our own problems for a while. In front of strangers who have no business seeing us without a painted face.

Throughout the ups and downs of life, trusting and mistrusting the hundreds of faces I’ve seen, I’ve learned something: It’s all about who is worth it. I wear a mask every day, depending on who I’m around. But I keep my life to myself unless I know the person is worth lifting away the mask for.

“Isn’t that tedious?”

Maybe. But I’d rather wear a mask for people who have not yet earned my trust.

Wearing makeup is tiring; washing it off is a relief. But once a cut heals, the scar is branded on your skin forever. You can cover it, but beneath the clothing, it’s still there. I would rather wear a mask until I know it’s safe.

Does this mean that if we wear masks, we are faking it? Not necessarily. In my mind, wearing a mask means concealing particular aspects of oneself. We may fake a smile, a laugh, or even spill a white lie from our lips.

Some people may go overboard and invent a new person to show the world. But this isn’t healthy, because the lies will eat the person alive eventually.

Wearing a mask is survival. Revealing too much could allow someone to take advantage, use information against the person, or judge him or her negatively. Possible damage is irreversible. Masks are shields to hopefully prevent pain.

At the end of the day, I wash my face and look in the mirror. No smile, no gold shimmer on my eye lids, no pink lip gloss. I know one person who I can live with, without wearing a mask. I relax my shoulders, knowing I don’t need to wear a mask for myself. Some cannot say this. Some people are running their entire lives, searching for their missing identities. They hide within the depths of what they wish they could be, painting a beautiful mask that isn’t la verdad.

Not everyone who looks in the mirror understands what they see, appreciates it, or even accepts it. I have been one of those people in the past. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve taken the mask off for myself, finally. And I’m slowly finding who else is worth it.

I feel safe enough to not wear a mask for myself.

 

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8 thoughts on “Masks: We All Wear Them

  1. It seems to me that as long as we recognise within ourselves what is authentic and what is not, then the discarding of masks becomes a natural and progressive process that unfolds throughout life. We can of course accelerate this process dramatically in contemplation, self-awareness and mindfulness practices; or if fortunate – as you yourself appear to be Rebecca – then the process need not demand too much interference even in the early adult years.

    In time, we come to understand masks as at times being necessary social constructs, ‘tricks’ that we play, not to deceive, but in order to facilitate communication, friendship and to signify qualities or empathies that we find difficult to put into words. As long as we do not live by them, wrongly seeing them as imperative to any engagement with the world, then even the authentic person can at times make use of a mask or two, or at least, a touch of make-up.

    Many thanks for this insightful and eloquent article Rebecca.

    Hariod. ❤

  2. You are right when you say we have all done it. In some ways most of us still do…be it at work for respect of the professional space, or whatever the case may be. To some degree some people only get some of who we are, and others get a different “us” entirely. I have said a million and one times that I am an open book, but this only applies when direct questions are asked. Though I do have a habit of revealing more of myself than I probably should I feel like there is some freedom in that. I don’t have to worry about the past creeping up behind me, or someone spilling something they had heard about me without my knowledge. I own my past and I try to be the best person I can be. I long ago washed away any shame or regret from dumb mistakes and teenage ignorance. The choices once made are not who I am only simply a part of my life at one point long ago.

    • That’s good you don’t worry about the past and feel freedom in revealing who you are. I think I’m slowly becoming a bit more relaxed about doing that, but it’s usually pretty selective with who I am an “open book” with.

  3. I think everyone has put on a mask a time or two for one reason or another. I think the key is to not keep the mask on. Always be your vulnerable self for those who deserve to see it and not for those who don’t deserve it. I also learned to forgive myself… because if you don’t you won’t be able to receive what’s waiting for you. This was an amazing post.

    • Thank you so much! I agree that everyone has experience with wearing a mask. Some feel the need to do so more than others. That’s good advice to make sure to forgive ourselves; doing that saves us from a lot of stress in life. When we find people we can be our true selves around, we don’t have to wear masks as often.

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