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Life is an adventure with all the twists and turns of a good book you can’t put down. This makes for an interesting story. Imagine how boring a book would be with no ups and downs for the main characters, no struggles, successes and failures.
The starring role in the book of your life is you……possibly with the same highs and lows as the hero or heroine who struggles against adversity, sometimes winning sometimes not. So what characters are you playing in your life story and do they still fit with who you are now?
It’s interesting to observe people at costume parties behaving differently from their usual selves. People who aren’t completely comfortable in their own skins can sometimes take it to extremes, preferring to live in fantasy worlds either online or in real life. Escapism is an unhealthy option, especially for those who want to run away from themselves, from being true to who they are….unless you’re a jerk, then obviously don’t be true to yourself!
Some of this is harmless fun, a great party singing to old disco songs like ‘I love the nightlife, I got to boogie…’. Who hasn’t danced the night away at a party, all dressed up as their fave character? Nothing wrong with that. The problem is when you wear masks in real life because you don’t like who you are or you think people won’t like who you are either.
Masks are limiting if they help you hide from your true self and prevent people knowing the real you. If getting to know yourself is a journey of discovery, one of the steps along the way is to ‘unmask’ yourself – work out who you really are, separate from the various roles you have taken on during your life. These could be influenced by your upbringing, schooling and other experiences.
You might be a mother, father, teacher, friend, sister and mentor. You could be known as the ‘black sheep’ of the family, the ‘clever one’ or the ‘pretty one’- not good at maths, class clown etc. More destructive is playing the role of victim, ‘poor me’, martyr, or having to always be the strong one, the together one.
It helps to understand what these roles are and if they still align with who you are now. Some roles are perfectly ok and fit with your values and your lifestyle and some can start to feel like a prison. If you feel like you always have to behave in certain ways, it might not be helpful for you anymore.
Now, we all wear masks to a certain extent and that’s not always a negative thing, as there are social niceties we need to follow. The problem is when it prevents you being authentic and you start to lose yourself.
So perhaps have a look at the roles you play to see how comfortable they still are for you. Do they empower you, allowing you to be flexible in your approach to life? Getting to know yourself better might mean removing a mask if it feels uncomfortable.
A word of caution here:
Be prepared for resistance to changes you might try and make. Some people have a vested interest in you being the same person you have always been and will pressure you to stay the same. This is a normal response and don’t be surprised by it. Change is never easy, for you, and those around you, and if you start to make changes, it often leads to other people needing to change as well.
Get on with being true to yourself!