It’s nearly Halloween. It’s actually the 31st in some places already. I’ve waited until the last minute to decide if I’m dressing up tomorrow and what as. It’s fun to be someone else for a bit, to play and eat candy, and have free license to be completely different, or even to get to be yourself for a change without people judging you for it. Some people can’t do that any other night of the year.
For so many years of my life, I put on masks to suit those around me. To a degree, we all do and will continue to for our whole lives. Not every person, place, time, and circumstance can handle every side of you. But there is a difference between behaving appropriately for the situation versus hiding yourself and pretending you are something entirely different.
Masks can be survival tools when we are in a place our true selves would be unwelcome, unappreciated, or even in danger just for existing. Masks can also be a crutch when we are afraid of rejection, or judgement. Sometimes, they can be both. I know some people in abusive situations pretend they are someone/something else to keep their abusers happy, or at least to avoid antagonizing them. Sometimes, even when they are free from that relationship, they keep the masks like a security blanket because they’ve forgotten who they are, or because they are afraid that their abusers were right and they aren’t good enough.
I’ve been shedding my masks a little at a time, but never so much as the past few years. I’ve discovered that most of the reasons I wore them were lies about my worth and what was acceptable/good enough. Sometimes they were actually saying something about someone else, but I inferred it as applicable to me. I was told lies by my family, my friends, my teachers, my enemies. Most of them didn’t even know they were telling me these things. But they did. Most of the time, they didn’t know any better. But now I do. That may be why I’m so set on being honest, because the world is full of too many falsehoods, half-truths, lies, and masks.
I used to have this image in my mind, like I was looking at myself in a broken mirror. Each piece reflected me, but it was a slightly skewed version of me. I had gotten really good at showing people the version of me they wanted to see. The better I got at it, the more broken I became because I was constantly fracturing my images into more and more refined bits to please them. Each mask I shed, each fracture of mirror I healed, I became a more whole and real person. I mean, I was even lying to myself, showing myself the skewed images and the masks and saying “This is who you are!”
Guess what? I’m not perfect. I’m as flawed as anyone else on the planet. I’m not cool. I’m a giant geek/dork/nerd/weirdo. I’m insecure and I question and doubt everything. Well, almost everything. I do not question or doubt that I am a better person today in my quest for wholeness and realness, shedding masks, mending mirrors, and being the flawed weirdo that I am, than I ever was living and believing all of those lies.
“She threw away all of her masks, and put on her soul.” -Bshayer F.R.
I saw that this morning and thought, “This! This is what I’ve been doing! All of this work in my life summed up in twelve words!” Every day I get up and I find a new way to be me, to put on my soul and throw away another mask. And my soul is a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess and it’s mine. God gave it to me for a reason and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to hide behind anyone else’s ideas of who I should be. And it is an awkward and terrifying process, but it is so freeing. So, reject me if you want, but I am not going to hide again or fracture myself to make you happy. I refuse to let Halloween be the one day each year that I can be the weird and messy me while wearing a mask all the rest of the time. This is my life, it is not a masquerade ball, so I’m going to wear my soul.