As a little girl, I used to parade around the living room in my mother’s ball gown. The crinoline scratched my shins, but I’ll never forget the feeling of dressing up to be someone I was not. It was fun when I was five.
Other times we dress up in ways that don’t involve fancy clothes. We put on masks, like kids on Halloween, to hide our truest feelings. We do so in the name of political correctness or because of a belief we have about ourselves or the world.
“Nice people always smile.”
“Never, ever let them see you cry.”
“Professional people always have it together.”
“Struggle? Not me.”
Being authentic in a world that judges a book by its cover is challenging at best. Removing those carefully laid masks can take a lot of work, but it is possible. It starts with the awareness that you’re wearing one at all.
You might not think you are playing a role, but let’s face it. We all do. How can you tell? Consider those people who just rub you the wrong way and you react automatically to them, despite the mask you thought you were wearing. Those unnerving moments when you cling to that facade only make things worse as you realize how far away from being your authentic self you truly are.
The next time you bump up against a mask, try peeling it away for a moment by looking at yourself in the mirror and asking: “Who will I be today?”
If you answer “Myself,” that’s a very good start indeed.