When I was young, I always thought that the idea of masquerades was ingenious. The idea of having your own unique mask, a chance at being whoever you want to be, a chance at choosing to live a completely different life and getting away from your reality, even if it was for a few hours, was what appealed to me. I guess the mystery was intriguing. It felt like an escape, where no one had to know anything about you, including you. The mask not only hid your identity, but your whole life too. Amusingly, it felt like a fresh start, a clean slate, a life you can enjoy without having to deal with any judgements or consequences.
But as I grew up, I realised that the entire world was a big masquerade ball. Every day, before stepping out, we don our masks to hide ourselves from the world. We change them whenever and wherever convenient. We choose how we want the world to see us, showing only parts that we want them to see and nothing more. Some people are deemed worthy enough to see more of the real us, while others, not so much.
And although it allows you to be a unique secret in this vast crowd, I feel that this game of hide-n-hide denies us the simple joys of life. This fake facade limits us in experiencing and expressing the tiniest of emotions that we feel. We filter our feelings so many times before allowing them to surface. Nothing that we outwardly showcase is ever pure or raw. We have learned to live with the constant subconscious fear that the cracks might show, and maybe, just maybe, someone will manage to see through them.
When we are unhappy about something, most of the time we cover it up with a fake emotion. We most often put on a fake smile and act like nothing is wrong with us. We don’t want to be made fun of or ridiculed for something that might hurt our image. We don’t want to be vulnerable, and therefore we put up an emotional barrier so that no one will know how we truly feel. We cover up a lot of things. Scars we carry, stories we hold, work we are afraid of doing. We cover up ourselves, deep inside.
But the masks aren’t all that bad. Sometimes pulling down this veil and showing yourself requires gentleness and slowness. Your mask might have served you at some point. These mechanisms were useful–they helped you survive. They got you here. They protected you. Unlocking them too quickly, without finding new ways of being, can also be damaging. One of our greatest fears is that if we show our true selves, the world will deem us ordinary. But being just you is actually the best and most perfect thing you could ever be. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
We weren’t born with masks. We put them on, so we can take them off. Think about the masks you wear and commit to taking them off. Hold your gifts out to the world—no apology, no shame, no regrets. Just remember that you are the weaver of your own disguise that you plan to wear to this every day masquerade.