Once I had kids, all my other fears (of which there are many) slipped down a notch. Yes, I am absolutely afraid of getting bit by a snake or a giant hairy spider. But now I'm more afraid of the kids getting bit by one. Once you have little people, you are forced to wear your heart outside of your body and that leaves you kind of vulnerable--fearful.
But it's my understanding, that particular neurosis, is kind of a universal condition for parents, making it a not so unique thing to write about today. Instead I thought I'd talk about wearing masks. I figured I'd mix it up and give you something a little different. But as soon as I began to examine the "mask" I wore most of my life, I realized that when I condensed my behavior down to it's most basic parts, I'd hid my true self out of fear. So, I guess I'm supposed to talk about fear after all.
What a simple but deep concept--hiding your true self out of fear of what other people might think of you. And even though it is such a basic thing, my instincts tell me that people repressing their uniqueness is probably as prevalent as parents wanting to wrap their kids in bubble wrap in order to get a good nights sleep. And if that's true, the question becomes...why are there so many of us who afraid to be transparent. Why is it so hard to give up the mask?
If everyone's unhappy, doesn't it make sense to all fix it together. But maybe the underlying problem is that no one trusts that we're in this together. Everyone thinks they're alone. Maybe it has something to do with hitting critical mass. When enough people take off their masks, even in the face of an unwelcome audience, there eventually comes a time when the abnormal becomes familiar and it's acceptable to be yourself. But for now--no one's sure-- so we all wait. Because we don't want to be wrong. And so the cycle continues.
But I don't want it to. Because maybe my fear of masks has become bigger than my fear of what someone might think I look like without mine on.
Does that mean I've ripped off my mask? Have I revealed my true self to the world? Have I been brave enough?
Maybe not exactly, but I'm trying.
I'm not sure I can claim to be completely free of my mask, but I do picture it jauntily propped up on my forehead where everyone has a clear view of my eyes. I've dared to take a peek around and I like what I see. Of course, there are still days when things get rough and my mask has the tendency to slip back down and close me off. But something is different now that I've glimpsed things in a new way. Instead of giving up when I get bumped around, I keep writing, because that's how I find the true me. And I like her. And I'm even almost okay with everyone getting to see her--sometimes.
Perhaps my second biggest fear is not being brave enough. Not doing enough to ensure there will be a day when the abnormal become familiar and it's acceptable to be yourself. But, be the change you want to see in the world, right? Move that mask.
Do you wear a mask? What keeps it in place? Have you tried to tug it off? What happened when you did?