The Mask

It is said that most people wear a social mask. You know the one. The public face that seems to instantly impose itself over our own the very second that our heels are out the door of our home……….our safe zone.

Why do we consciously, deliberately wear this mask that we feel we must hide behind?

Do we wear one out of a sense of fear? If so fear of what?

I suspect that one of the main ‘fears’ is of letting the outside world and even those closest to us know how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about them.

If we admit to someone that we are sad, now what?

The person who asked the question “how are you?” now has a bit of a dilemma going around in their head.

They can be sympathetic and maybe even ask a ‘light’ question such as “How come?”

If they have proven to be so brave, trust me, by now they are holding their breath.

Your response will either allow them to exhale or their mask will grip even tighter.

If they were fortunate enough to exhale they may also allow their mask to slip just a little or to become less opaque.

Most people would rather hear about an earthquake in Turkey. It is definitely a tragic event but they don’t have to be emotionally or personally involved, unless of course, they have friends or family in Turkey.

Ok. Tell the person you are fine.

Have you told the truth or have you lied through your own social mask?

Maybe we wear our social mask so that others don’t really know how we feel about them.

We keep them at arm’s length and always guessing.

When we begin to suspect that they are coming too close to exposing our true feelings we tend to panic and add a few more layers of protective paint to our mask.

Why do we do this? Social masks are excruciatingly heavy and require constant maintenance.

Isn’t it time that we finally release ourselves from the burden?

Ok. Maybe going to work tomorrow and performing Johnny Paycheque’s old song “Take this Job and Shove it” wouldn’t be the smartest thing that you’ve ever done.

So, yes unfortunately there are times when we are required to wear a social mask.

Maybe I’m weird. I don’t know. I do know, however, that my entire being cringes at the very thought of having to play the game.

When someone asks me how I feel I tell them.

The closer that person is to my heart, the fuller and more honest answer they receive.

If some were to ask me if I’m happy I would tell them “I really don’t know.”

At least I would have until very recently.

A dear friend and I are growing closer everyday and I am extremely happy.

As I look back at the beginning of my story I discover that the word ‘said’ could be so easily replaced by the word ‘sad’.

Please, don’t hold back your true self or your true feelings from those you love. It is so unfair both to them and to you.

 

Val Falconer
October 21, 2009

Update
March 15, 2017
My ‘new friend’ and I recently celebrated our seventh anniversary on February 27th