Masks. We all have them. And no, I don't mean the ones we wear on Halloween or the fancy ones we use to make our skin soft and smooth. I'm talking about the masks we wear to cover up our true selves; the masks we put on every day that conceals our true identity and emotions. For some people that mask is makeup (that's not to say that every person who wears makeup does it out of insecurity), designer labels, subscribing to a particular ideology, even a simple smile, and the list goes on and on. We wear these masks, often unconsciously, in an effort to fit what society, our family, our friends, our employer, our pastor, etc. say we should be (or better yet, what we assume that they think we should be).
Our masks cover a multitude of hurt, pain, likes, dislikes, habits, passions, and confessions just waiting to be shared; however, the very masks we hide behind most often are the causes of the discomfort we feel. When we suppress our authentic selves long enough, we eventually explode, at least that’s what happened to me.
Like many others do, I’ve hidden behind the mask of “perfection”. Growing up, I was the girl who always had her stuff together. I made straight A’s in school, was well behaved and well mannered, never caused anyone any trouble. In an effort to maintain this image and try to please everyone else around me, I neglected me and pursued what I thought I “should” be doing. Years of being what I thought I was supposed to be left me living merely as a shell of myself, shifting my identity to whatever I thought my parents, friends, boyfriend, or anyone else expected of me at that moment.
Things came to a head in 2014, which was one of the roughest years of my life personally. I was at my personal worst, and I had an emotional breakdown. 24 years of living as a prisoner in my own body and mind finally took its toll on me. I no longer knew who I was anymore, I lost a sense of my essence, what makes me, ME. I was depressed and too ashamed to admit it and seek help; my mask’s grip on me unrelenting.
It was when I hit rock bottom that I was faced with the realization that I could stay down and let my mask continue to rob me of my identity or I could rise up and set out on the journey to find me and learn to accept and love her fully. I chose the latter and have been on this journey ever since. This journey is not for the faint of heart; it’s a long, painful process. People’s feelings may get hurt, and you might even have to let go of some people as I did, but the freedom that comes from walking in your truth, whatever that might be for you, is more than worth it. I still have my low points, I’ve picked up my mask every now and then and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way,but I have no plans of quitting. Consistency is key!
What masks do you hide behind? How do you deal with them?
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