It’s that time of year again. You either love it or hate it, but either way Halloween is here to stay. After seeing all the ridiculous costumes and scary masks on display in town, it got me thinking. Did you know that Halloween is actually an ancient Celtic holiday in which people believed they needed masks to protect themselves from bad spirits that roamed the earth on all Hallows Eve. Here we are thousands of years later and people are still wearing masks and not just on Halloween. People can hide behind anything from a false smile to oversized dark sunglasses think Victoria Beckham.
Then of course there are the emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because we’re scared, unsure or angry. This could be dropping names when we are insecure, being a bully when we are unsure of our power or hiding behind anger when we think the world is against us. We pretend things are fine at work when our careers are on the line, we mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford and we pretend are relationships are all okay even when we know there are problems.
So, what masks do you wear?
One of the most common reasons I think we choose to wear masks is because of Impostor Syndrome—the fear that the world is going to turn around and say “you’re a fraud!”. People sometimes describe it as feeling like a fake, like you don’t really belong, or like you aren’t really successful, but are just posing as such. Just like a wearing a Halloween costume, you feel and look like something else but as soon as the mask is off, it’s just you again.
As humans, one of our greatest fears is that if we show our true selves, the world will say, “Oh, it’s just you.” But being just you is actually the best and most perfect thing you could ever be. You’ve heard all the sayings from Oscar Wilde’s – “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” to Judy Garland’s – “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
If we don’t learn how to shed our masks then we will never be able to live out into our full potential. There are plenty of people who have our same skill-sets, or maybe an even better one. But in terms of personality and spirit, no one can ever match you on that. The irony is that we often mask that personal side and lose our greatest potential. It is exhausting to live an inauthentic life. Swapping and changing masks all day is exhausting. Worst of all, you start forgetting who you really are. When we wear masks, we carve a piece of ourselves out, the piece that we deem to be unworthy. But in relationships we can’t fully heal unless we offer up all our pieces, damaged and all. It’s like gifting someone a broken vase and asking them to fix it while we hold back two or three of the broken pieces.
Sometimes it can be hard to remember that weren’t born with masks. We are the ones that choose to put them on, so we should be the ones to take them off. If you are having trouble taking your mask off then try this simple exercise – Write down everything you are proud of, all your successes even the little victories. Then write a list of all the work you had to do to achieve those goals. You’ll soon realise that your success is not a fluke, you are not a fake and you deserve everything you have worked for! Learning to take of your mask will take time. Think about the masks you wear whether it’s a full face of make-up to be able to face the world, or the “business” mask you put on every day to let everyone know you’re “fine” and literally “faking it until you make it” (which I hate BTW) and commit right now to being more vulnerable, more real and sharing how you really are and then to taking them those masks off everyday.
Show the world your true self and never apologise or feel ashamed for doing so!
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