Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth...Oscar Wilde
Its the holiday season. Christmas shopping is about to hit it’s crescendo and our calendars are full of dinners and parties. Speaking of those parties, notice the shallow, often light hearted conversations that run amok as wine is poured and lights begin to dim. The space whirls with laughter and the spirit of the holiday. You might notice that everyone is in character – the banker, the former cheerleader, the artist, the know-it-all, etc…Yet who many of the revelers are is and will remain a mystery. We might be full, but we are far from satiated as we drive home later that night.
The reason for this, I believe, is that most of us are uncomfortable in our own skin. We have identified with our characters for so many years that we have lost contact with our true selves; only reveal ourselves, ripe with insecurity to the very few. For some of us, we’d rather die, than be seen.
In these characters we also hide the feelings that we harbor. Our inner most thoughts, desire and wants tucked neatly away. Whether it be a burning desire for someone across the room or a deep sorrow from years of conformity and disconnection; our true feelings almost never make it to the surface. We allow our characters to provide the charade that ensues – a mask that hides if you will.
Occasionally we allow a little light to get through with the help of substances so that others might catch a glimpse of something real. But, rest assured, we’ll be right back to ourselves as soon as the sun rises. Only the ghost of last night left to linger in the after thoughts of those who where witness to the offering.
I for myself have been both the witness to and the party in such a divine comedy. Myself, then out of my body the next. I know first hand how quickly I can retreat into character trying to avoid a situation or conversation. Never revealing what is alive for me in that moment. Wishing that this person would shut up or that person would come towards me. Wanting to punch someone, to scream at the top of my lungs or to simply walk away for a lack of knowing what to do or say. So many funny, sometimes dark thoughts; all covered under the rouse of someone who is capable, or at the very least, in control.
So what is the answer? If we say what’s on our mind, we are in for trouble. Yes, being real can be dangerous, but it gives us purpose to our lives. We feel the power in our authenticity. We have a vibrancy that resonates out; a demonstration that we are capable and complete. Nothing can be more powerful than to be (and say) ourselves fully. And it all starts with a choice we make – whether to raise or lower our mask.