Last week’s post – No More Hero Worship – taught me a valuable lesson that I will summarize for you now:
Take off the mask.
I am always surprised when I write something personal — especially when I admit a struggle, mistake, or other imperfection — that I get the BEST responses from people, and not just people who somehow think I’ve slipped into a deep depression (I haven’t, by the way). I get THANK YOUs for opening up and for NOT being perfect.
I wear masks, just like everyone does. In fact, I have a whole collection: I have the dad mask, the husband mask, the son mask, the writer mask, the entrepreneur mask, the boss mask, the Christian mask, the neighbor mask, the Golden Retriever owner mask…the list goes on and on.
Our masks are perfect, or as perfect as we can make them. We want people to feel like we’ve totally got our act together, we don’t really have very many problems, and life is good.
But that’s not real is it? I do believe that life is good overall, and we have the power to make it better. But the truth is life sucks sometimes and we make a lot of mistakes — every one of us. Heck, I’d bet my Golden Retrievers that even Mother Theresa made a few mistakes.
Masks look good on the outside, but they become a hot mess on the inside. Ever wear one of those cheap plastic masks as a kid? After a very short time, they got sweaty, sticky, and started smelling like your horrible 7-year-old breath. You wanted to take it off, but you kept it on because having the world see you as Wonder Woman or Spider Man was more important.
Ah, but you WEREN’T Wonder Woman or Spider Man, were you? The funny thing is that not a single person you came in contact with believed you were Wonder Woman or Spider Man. They just played along. They might have been entertained by your mask for a few moments, but there wasn’t a single person who wanted you to keep that mask on all the time. They wanted to see the real you. The real you was so much more…real. The real you was (and still is) a lot more interesting to have around than a fake Wonder Woman.
Another thing I’ve noticed about masks: They’re heavy and exhausting. You might not notice the weight right away, but over time they require more and more energy to keep on. If you wear them long enough, they eventually wear you out.
We wear masks because we’re afraid to show the real, flawed, imperfect us. We believe people won’t like us, they won’t date us or marry us, they won’t want to work with us, they won’t want us to be in their club, they won’t elect us as President of the United States or the Justin Timberlake Fan Club.
Presidential positions aside, those beliefs are simply not true. Everyone I really like, and I mean really truly like, is someone who is willing to take off their masks in public. I bet the people you really, truly like are the same way.
Feel like you’ve been wearing a mask a little too long? Is it feeling heavy? Are you starting to smell your stinky 7-year-old breath?
Maybe it’s time to take it off and breathe.
Be the real you. We always like the real you more.