I’ve been thinking, a lot lately, about masks. The masks we wear on purpose and the masks we wear without even thinking about them.
I believe we all wear masks. Maybe we are wearing the mask of the efficient, capable person that knows just what to do and when to do it. Maybe our mask is the mom that knows exactly how to handle every situation that comes up. We all are wearing a mask and that isn’t always a bad thing, but some masks can keep us from being fully known by those around us.
The problem with masks is not the ones we hold up for a moment or two, but the ones that we put on so long ago that they have almost become part of us. We might reach up to remove it but find it is glued on. We find that the mask is so ingrained that we don’t know how to remove it.
I think I wear several of these masks. Others look at me and see the mask, but they help me to hide what is underneath, what is hiding, the real me.
The problem is that it can be difficult to remove these masks. The ones that have become so much a part of us that others use them to define us. We may know that the real definition is something completely different, but we don’t know how to show that. Sometimes, the mask we thought we put on is not the same one that others see, but we don’t know how to change their vision or our mask. It is hard to remove some masks because the experiences that go into making the mask aren’t a topic for casual conversation. We can’t say “I dress in baggy, ill fitting, worn out clothes because experiences I have had has made me want to hide my femininity and has made me want to not be noticed.”
In my family there has been a saying that I will argue with a wall that it is really a window. I am not proud of this, but it is the truth. I have been known to argue against all evidence that my point of view is right. I work hard now to keep this in check but there are other masks that are sort of part of this one.
I try to appear as a person that thinks they know what to do, when, and knows what they are talking about. The truth is that I usually feel completely out of my element and don’t know anything. I wing it. I am hiding my lack of self-confidence and insecurities behind a mask of (what I hope others see as) competence and self-assurance.
I half jokingly say I am an introverted extrovert. The truth is that I am shy but feel that if I don’t seek and get the attention I will be like the cobweb in the corner that no one ever notices. Even the most introverted wants to be noticed and cherished for who they are.
When I first started going to the Vine church in Temple, Texas I would arrive just when it started and leave as soon as everything was over. I didn’t know very many people and I didn’t want any one to feel they had to come talk to me and I didn’t want to be standing there with no one to talk to either. I don’t really know how to do small talk and since I didn’t know these people much I wasn’t sure what to say to anyone. Fortunately, the Vine is such a loving community, they sought me out, they caught be as I was arriving or leaving and talked to me. I was shy and scared and had (in some ways still have) no idea what I am doing or how to do it.
This is probably the opposite of what most would say. I think most people would say… “Yvonne acts like she knows what she is doing even when she doesn’t” It is another mask that is hard to remove.
A friend told me “The reason we have a hard time changing is we have a set of beliefs that make us who we are and to change we have to develop a new set of beliefs that support who we want to be.” I agree with this completely, but even if we change our beliefs we still have to figure out how to take the mask off. First impressions are important and once they are made it is difficult to get others to see beyond them even when we change.
We all have a variety of masks we wear, some deliberately, others unconsciously. Some we wear because they still serve a purpose for the moment, and others because we don’t know how to take them off. We all want to be known for who we really are, rather than for our masks, but when the rubber hits the road, we are afraid. Maybe we are afraid that others won’t like us if they knew the real us. Maybe we are afraid that some pain that made us create the mask will cause a pain in others.
Lets have a conversation about masks. Why we wear them, why they are so hard to remove sometimes, why they don’t always look the same to others as to ourselves, lets even talk about our own masks and start removing them. Let’s get to know each other, our real selves with all of our quirks and inabilities. Please share your thoughts and be respectful to others. All unkind or thoughtless comments will be removed. Let’s truly love one another as we get to know each other.
Here are a few blogs I have read this week and have found helpful and encouraging.