When the masks are removed and we stare back at our reflections again for the very first time, it is only then that the truth is revealed.
We live in a world that has conditioned us to wear a mask in order to fit in. It starts when we are small and is often related to our gender, coming in the form of wearing blue for boys and pink for girls. Next follow the toys chosen for us to play with, influenced by what has been advertised on TV as the latest and greatest objects. The plaything that every young girl or boy needs to have: various dolls and sparkly, pretty objects for girls; items that move quickly, make noise, and demand action for boys.
The world of animation begins to penetrate every corner of our lives through cartoons, movies, games, stories, posters, music, and words. Displaying images of how we should act according to our gender, what social norms we should follow, who we should strive to try and be like. Images of princesses and hero’s fill our minds, are acted and played out in our imagination, and our little minds want to be just like that image when we grow up.
Eventually we move away from the childhood idea of being a princess or hero, but the donning of masks does not stop. If anything the pressure becomes greater as we are constantly exposed to images of being feminine or masculine. Our emotions are intertwined with the masks we have developed for ourselves, and we learn to master the art of displaying to the world that everything is perfect in our lives and in our homes.
We make sure that the world only sees what we want them to see, regardless of how we truly feel inside. This imagining may begin to feel very heavy over time as we stuff our emotions deep inside and try to pretend that everything is ok. The irony however is that the majority of people projecting to the world that they are ok – really are not. But why is it so hard to simply take the mask off and let others know that we are hurting and going through a difficult time? Why do we feel the need to wear the mask and numb the pain turning to objects such as food to bury these emotions? We may feel sometimes like we are completely alone in our feelings, thoughts, struggles and emotions when the truth is that there are thousands of others out in the world experiencing and feeling exactly as we do.
When the masks are removed and we stare back at our reflections again for the very first time, it is only then that the truth is revealed. The truth is that we are human – we feel, we hurt, we laugh, we love, we come in different shapes, sizes and colors, and we are perfect in our imperfection. Imagine the difference it can make in someone else’s lives when we have the courage to take off the masks and show our vulnerability, sharing our life experiences with others as a means to reinforce both to ourselves and them that life isn’t meant to be perfect. We are meant to experience a variety of emotions and lessons along our journey – but we were never meant to do it alone.
The next time someone asks “How are you?” Be honest. Taking off your mask and letting your guard down may just be exactly what the other person needs to find the courage to take off their own masks.
This image crossed my path the other day, and I love that it reflects reality.
Lots of Love,