The Masks We Wear

Our modern society requires us to wear many different masks. Sometimes we have to be the capable parent, or the obedient child. Sometimes we are the brave warrior or the righteous victim, or maybe we are called on to be a selfless healer or a passionate lover. We wear masks for our jobs, our families, and our relationships. We even wear masks for ourselves.

Our culture requires us to shrink ourselves into narrow roles. Our minds like the world to be predictable so we put on the mask and get into character. It's easier to predict an argument between two cartoon characters, the macho husband and submissive wife, than between two complex human beings. Many times we get trapped behind our masks, we forget to take them off. We stop being vulnerable and we lose touch with our complicated, and often raw nature. The mask is safe, the mask is simple, the mask is controllable. 

I'm fascinated by all the different roles that we play in our lives. We switch masks countless times during a day. We move between varying levels of responsibility, capability, and comfortability. I remember when I became aware of all the masks that I wore, it was mind-blowing. I remember going to my therapist in crisis, I didn't know who I was anymore. I worried that nothing existed behind my masks.  My fear was that all the roles that I played were just lies. 

I wish it were so simple that there was a face behind the mask. That way we could just learn who that was and then we'd be fine right? We could put on the different masks but still have a sense of self. That would make this whole journey of self-discovery so clear, it would be difficult but at least it would be linear. Well, in my experience, it's not that easy. In fact, I've come to learn that there really nothing behind the mask. I am equally myself in all expressions.

This is difficult because many of my roles contradict each other. How can I be both a confident public speaker and a shy socializer? What about an adventurous outdoorsman and a frightened hermit? Can I be both a confident therapist and an insecure partner? I'm not sure, but I am. The trick is being able to tolerate all of these states and realize that they are all part of the whole, there isn't an answer. Like a diamond with many facets, we can have very different reflections based on where the light is coming from. Can we learn to accept our masks?