I have a million different masks that I slide on and off. I’ve been doing it my whole life and have done it so much, each transition is absolutely seamless. I wear these masks for many reasons, none of which are probably healthy, but they get me through each day so they can’t be entirely bad. Right???
I wear a mask to try fit in in social situations. I wear them at work as I’m in a law enforcement role so that doesn’t really suit my personality. I wear them to protect myself from people judging the real me. To be honest I wear them sometimes just because it’s easier to put on a front and pretend I’m someone different. To pretend I’m confident. To pretend I’m coping.
It’s actually quite scary that if you ask 5 random people in my life to describe me, their descriptions would be startlingly different.
Ask a work colleague that has seen me in action when someone is being disrespectful. They would say I’m strong, confident and brilliant in conflict situations. That I don’t take any amount of shit from anyone.
Ask one of my oldest and closest friends and they would tell you I’m the life of the party. Extroverted. Would fight the biggest person to protect them.
Ask one of my ex’s and they’d tell you I’m stubborn and fiery. Another ex would tell you I’m overbearing and love too much. Another would tell you I’m deeply loyal and always put others first. One would say I’m too emotional. One would say I’m not emotional enough.
Ask someone who has seen me with my daughter. They will tell you I’m sweet and soft like a teddy as I sit and sing to her to calm her down when she’s upset.
Ask someone that has just met me and if I’m in a new environment, they would tell you I look rude and unapproachable. The whole resting bitch face thing again. I’m not rude I’m just shy and overwhelmed from being in a place I don’t know with people I don’t know.
I’ve realised recently I wear so many masks to cope with so many scenarios in my life, that I don’t even know the real me anymore. I’ve hidden the true me for so long that if you ask me to describe myself, I couldn’t even give you an honest answer. I’d have to reply, well what situation do you want me to describe myself in???
I can’t recall when I started putting these masks on. Started changing my personality to suit the people I’m with or the situations I’m in. But I know for sure I was definitely doing it before I hit my teens and was realising there was something ‘different’ about me.
My friends started talking about their interest in boys. I didn’t understand what they were on about. There was a feeling of unease inside of me and I know for sure I started wearing a mask then so no one realised I wasn’t ‘normal.’
This was 23ish years ago and I’ve realised recently that I’ve still been wearing a mask when it comes to my sexuality. I’ve spent my whole life worrying about being judged, when the only person that has been judging me, is myself.
I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve never had to endure more than a few minor homophobic comments. But I’ve heard horrific stories of others suffering and I’ve always been terrified of it happening. So I’ve been living my whole life as that 12 year old girl, scared to be ‘different.’ Wearing a mask to try and protect myself from harm that never comes.
I’ve spent my whole life desperately trying to appear ‘normal’ and not be seen as an outsider. Now that I’m going through this journey of learning to accept who I am, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being ‘normal.’
I want and need to release this mask and embrace myself for who I truely am.
Another mask I wear constantly is one to cope with social situations. I don’t like having attention on me and I’m more than happy to sit back and have quiet, meaningful conversations with one person at a time. However it seems at every social gathering there’s that one dick that has to be the life of the party and feels it’s his/her duty to force everyone to have a ‘great time’ like they are.
They completely lack the ability to understand that people have different personalities and that not everyone has to be up shouting and dancing and being overly enthusiastic about the tiniest of things. They completely lack the ability to understand that the 2 quiet people in the corner that were having a meaningful conversation, were actually having a ‘great time’ in their own way.
Because of their lack of understanding they then butt in and try and get you to stand up and join in with them in their overt enthusiasm. When you decline they try and shove a drink in your face saying oh you need to get drunk so you can have a good time. Um no you asshat we were having a wonderful time until you came along so please get out of my face so I can go back to enjoying myself.
Those kind of situations are so awkward and uncomfortable that I learnt to put on a mask and attempt to be overly enthusiastic with that person. It would work most times and they’d get their fix and move onto the next person. But I’d always feel like a fool afterwards. Hating that I couldn’t naturally just be like that person so I could fit in easier. Hating that I don’t feel comfortable to just be my true self in every situation I’m in.
Again this is a mask that I want and need to release.
I don’t want to wear these masks anymore. I want to feel comfortable being me. I want to feel confident enough to not change myself to suit other people. I want to feel like I’m not being judged for being ‘different.’
I feel as a society we’ve grown to expect certain ‘norms,’ certain behaviours from people. Society seems to look up to those that are out there making a noise and demanding attention. Society also seems to look down on those that are quieter and don’t like attention drawn to them.
I’m realising such a common theme in everything I write lately. And that is that as humans we all seem to judge each other for our differences instead of embracing our uniqueness. Instead of celebrating and learning from our dissimilarities, we criticise and belittle them. This is probably the founding factor in why so many of us wear masks to hide our true selves.
It’s from this pressure to perform and be someone I’m not, that I judge myself so harshly. How I constantly put myself down and tell myself I’d be so much better if I was like her. How I’d fit in so much easier if I was like him.
It’s been so eye opening since I started publishing my journey. I’ve had so many people contact me and say that they have had similar experiences as mine when it comes to feeling like they don’t fit in just because they are introverted. Or they have an inner critic too that harshly attacks them for being ‘different.’ That they have felt lost and alone even in a room full of people because they feel that no one understands them.
It makes me so frustrated and truly sad that humans are having this effect on other humans that they are meant to care about. You’d think after millions of years of so called ‘progress’ that we would have figured out by now that not one of us is the same as another. You’d think we would have all accepted and embraced each other’s uniqueness.
If anything can come from this blog I hope so fiercely that even just one person can turn around and change someone’s life by not judging them. By accepting them fully for who they are. By giving a random compliment to someone. By smiling at a stranger. By saying something kind to someone that serves us at a restaurant.
Let’s make a pact here and now to do one thing out of the ordinary per day to make someone smile. In a world full of cruelty, let’s choose to start spreading kindness.