As a child, I loved Halloween and the ability to transform into anyone I wanted to be. A mask and a hand-made costume were all I needed for a fun-filled night spent wandering up and down our neighborhood streets, gathering gobs of sugary treats. Wearing a mask for a night was great fun.
Truth be told, they seldom stayed on for the full night — after a few hours, the mask became uncomfortable and made it difficult to breathe. More often than not they were tossed into my pillowcase full of sweet loot before the night’s end.
Now imagine wearing those masks day in and day out, year after year after year. I’m quite certain I’d find them both irritating and suffocating. I would have grown to hate them.
Fast forward to adult life and the irony is that I’ve been wearing all sorts of masks for years … pretending to be something I’m not in the hopes of making my life better.
I sought to belong, so I wore masks that I thought would help me fit in.
I wanted approval, so I donned masks that I believed would earn the attention and confirmation I was seeking.
I yearned for career success, so I created masks that would make me appear to be the perfect employee, the one with unlimited upward potential, often doing work I didn’t enjoy at all.
Convinced I was not worthy of even the smallest measure of love, I longed to hide my true self, so I put on masks that helped me portray who I thought I should be.
Unhappy with nearly every aspect of myself, I got accustomed to inventing new masks … desperately praying people would accept the character I was creating. I lost touch with who I was.
It didn’t work. Just like with those plastic masks with the tight elastic chin grips from my childhood, I found that the masks became more and more painful to wear over time. I couldn’t breathe. I was suffocating. And, I seriously doubt I was ever completely fooling anyone with those masks anyway.
I know I’m not alone in this. Consider …
- How many masks have you put on in your life?
- What are the reasons you’ve put them on?
- How have they hurt you?
- Wouldn’t it just feel better to take the masks off?
One of the bravest acts of self-love you can take is to make the decision to just be you; it’s also one of the most freeing and important steps along the path to living your most fulfilling life.
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without
and know we cannot live within.
– James A. Baldwin
Today I like to believe that I’m “mask free” – though I know I’m a work in progress. I won’t tell you it’s been easy – because it turns out, I did fool a few people who never completely realized who I truly was. So, it’s taken some adjustment for me and for them. Still, I feel freer than I’ve ever felt. I am authentically me and I make decisions based on who I am and what I want, not what I think the world expects of me. The result is that I now breathe more easily. I smile more often … and it shows. It’s been an exhilarating change that’s made a tremendous difference in my life.
Maybe it’s time you considered taking off the masks you’re wearing. I promise, you’ll breathe more easily, too.
Share your thoughts and your experience in the comments section below. Have you ever felt a need to hide yourself with a mask? What masks do you need to take off? How have the masks hurt you? Have you been brave enough to take off a mask and express your authentic self that you were once hiding — and how did that feel?
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15 thoughts on “Taking Off Your Masks: An Outrageous Act of Self-Love”
Having worn all the masks you mentioned, now that I have and am tossing them into the trash, some–most– people in my life cannot, or will not, cope. Tossing the masks is difficult and scary, but I feel those people are more frightened by the True Me who is now realizing my worth and value as Me and not what they want me to be; frightened because the True Me is no longer under their manipulation.
Yes, some people won’t be able to handle the real you … they’re used to a mask. But living in a mask is no way to live. Good for you for being brave enough to be authentic. It’s truly the only way to live feeling free and happy!
This is a wonderful and truly powerful testimony. One in which every human being at one time or another have endured. I know I have. Thank you for sharing your unique experience. Shalom.
I have been pretending all my life to be unintelligent, hiding behind a vale of stupidity. I hope nobody esle is doing this. I need to be true to myself and wear my intelligence with a proper amount of humility but with some pride. I struggled in High School with being mocked for using big words, now I know I have been hiding it, I have denied it and I have hurt myself in the process. Thank you for opening my eyes to my true self, God Bless you.
Scott — thanks for sharing your story. I believe a lot of people will relate to it. I pray you’ll find the strength to be all you were meant to be in this life, never again hiding your light! Bless you. ~ J. Marie
Yes when I was younger I used to pretend to be dumb or dumb myself down in front of my family so my brother would look smarter! He would get annoyed if I seemed smart. Now when I do a course and I’m doing really well I tend to leave the course, even when I’m breezing through the work! So obviously I need to get rid of this dumb mask and embrace the real me!
Ahh – I feel I can and will get side tracked on your website here – what a great message. Thanks for writing so clearly.
How timely is this article, not only for the calendar month of the year, but for pursuing the thought of what? after the mask? This stirs in my spirit asking for more consideration. I appreciate your well-written post and your beautiful site.
Thank you Janet — we appreciate your visiting the site today and leaving such a kind and positive comment.
i love my self and others.
I think we are all wear those masks. Great post!
Very wise words and even though it is hard to implement, a life of authenticity is worth it!
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Misty! We appreciate it!
I have no idea who i am and am been this way since i was young. The need to not be noticed much and to keep people happy has been so ingrained..i don’t even know why. How do you find yourself?
Thanks for all the reminders-I know that the ONLY way and the Very BEST way is to be my Authentic Self, but it is SO Good to be reminded, Thank You, I Fully Appreciate it. With Love and Blessings