We all wear a mask, whether you choose to admit it or not, you do. You could be wearing it right now. By a mask, I mean the hypothetical mask where you are either hiding from the pain or hiding from who you are in general. I know I have several masks, I have come to terms with it and accept them as a part of who I am. You may have a mask you wear when you are emotionally distraught from a bad break-up or an argument with a loved one, so you pretend to be happy when you are at work or school. Your mask could be something as simple as pretending to like a certain type of music to not hurt someone else’s feelings, or it could be a complex mask. An ornate, well-designed mask, one that you have been wearing for years; one that keeps you hidden from your inner most fears and pain, one that shapes who you are today. Some of you reading this right now know exactly what I mean by this, you know the depths and darkness of these kinds of masks, you know what it is like to have these inner demons hidden behind your mask.
These masks that are hiding your demons, they are not new to you. You have had them in your life for some time now, years possibly, maybe for as long as you can remember. So long, in fact, that they have become a major part of who you are, it has actually become a part of you and replaced what you were hiding. For instance, you are a middle school student, and very intelligent; you do great in school, are considered a nerd because you do your homework and extra credit, you have a select group of friends, and that’s it. The “popular” kids only talk to you to get answers on tests and homework assignments, this eventually wears on you. You “want” to become friends with these people; after all, they are the cool kids. What do you do to become friends with them? You put on a mask. You pretend to be someone you are not. You start acting up in class, shaping yourself into the class clown, you stand up in Algebra 1A and flip your hands upside down to make a mock-Batman mask and jump on your chair to yell “I’m Batman”. The teacher is frustrated with your unruly behavior and kicks you out of class, this makes the other kids see that you are not some nerd, but you are funny and will do anything for a laugh. You got your in. But at what cost? Everyone now expects this of you, all the time. You begin acting up so much in Algebra that you get behind on the lesson plans, you get lost, you start failing in class, before you know it you are retaking the same class the next year. Grades are failing, you are becoming now for a class clown, and by then you have expanded your group of friends but not your mind. Years later, after high school, people no longer look at your for being the smart guy, or intelligent at all; they see you as a goofball and idiot. When you try to show your true side, show your intelligence, you’re regarded as a smartass. You turned your mask into your face, you fused your mask to who you are, you are stuck. You became subject to quicksand.
Truth is, you are wearing a mask. Just as I am. Just as the middle school student was, and still does to this day. If you can avoid wearing a mask, do so, at all costs. There is no reason to never show who you really are, ever. People are going to like you for who you are, if they don’t, then they do not belong in your life. You should not have to change who you are to appease someone else’s standards, and definitely not for society’s standards. I look at myself today, a 30 year old single dad; and the worst choice I ever made was to wear that Batman mask in Mr. Jones Seventh Grade Algebra 1A class. Today, I focus on me. On who I am, who I truly am, and I embrace it. I am a nerd, I enjoy video games and comic books, I love cartoons (the old stuff and Disney stuff), I like music (all kinds, hell I still like N*Sync), I still own action figures (sure I gave them to Tucker, but I play them with him, not just for his sake), I love to color and own my own coloring books (not just the adult ones, I have some Marvel coloring books), I love movies (even chick-flicks, P.S. I Love You made me cry like a little school girl, it melted my heart). I am now true to myself, I instill this upon my children and want them to be who they are, no matter who that is. There is no greater feeling in this life than being true to yourself, you have this sense of freedom. When you can truly be yourself, even if it is just in your own home, it is a relief, it is a huge burden lifted off of your shoulders and you feel like you can fly. Truth of the matter is, just be yourself, if you don’t follow any advice I give through any of my blogs, follow that. It’s a constant battle trying to be yourself, it always will be, but do it. Be who you are meant to be, yourself. Never Stop!
We Wear the Mask