“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.” - André Berthiaume
Social Media is a great microcosm for the study of the masks we wear. The life we project for our mothers on Facebook is different than what we share to Instagram or blurt out on Twitter. We project ideal selves into different platforms and have even been given editing tools and filters to help customize our virtual-self image.
While it’s more obvious in the virtual world, it is taking place offline too. We tells ourselves these masks are a necessary part of keeping a job, making people comfortable or being polite. We all do it, so what’s the big deal?
First off, acknowledge that it’s done out of fear. People worry that their true selves will be unliked, unappreciated, unloved, judged, or make others uncomfortable. So they hide by modifying their behavior for the situation. It’s an attempt at self preservation that backfires at actually preserving The SELF.
When you wear a mask, you’re preserving your comfortable circumstances and nothing more. In fact, you’re risking quite a lot.
You’re giving away your life force. These games take energy and living for others -- for their opinions and impressions or even to make them comfortable -- sacrifices your willpower and other resources that could be used to move your real life and self forward.
You’re sacrificing more genuine relationships. Real people connect, honestly, with other real people. Those not sharing their true selves, will never connect in a genuine way with another person’s true self.
You’re risking your credibility. People trust and respect those who have the integrity to be the same person in all situations. We all know an ultimate mask wearer at work -- talks about everyone differently depending on the audience; kisses the bosses ass and then slams him in the next meeting. You know never to share anything vulnerable with that person because they’ll throw you under a bus.
You will eventually lose yourself. You may find this hard to believe, but over time these masks will fuse and blend and change the self beneath them. Don’t think you can be 5 different people in 5 different situations for 25 years and still know who you “really” are.
So, Are you wearing too many masks? Here are some giveaways:
Ask yourself what you’re achieving by wearing any one of the masks you don and then ask what you truly risk by being your genuine self. Will you really lose your job? Will you be excommunicated by family? Ditched by friends? And if the answers to these questions is, “Yes,” then are you truly happy with your life circumstances? Is it possible that being true to yourself would help your life better reflect your bliss.
Start peeling the masks back. It may prove to be a slow and long process, but it’s worth it. You need to really BE your true, best self. The world needs your true, best self too.