Life hiding behind a mask
On a simplistic level, most people hide behind a mask of varying degrees at different stages of their life. Teenagers often hide behind a fear of not truly understanding who they are meant to be. Parents hide behind a fear of failing to live up to the unrealistic expectations of parenthood. Some people hide behind fear of being exposed as someone they are not. Is there anything wrong with hiding behind a mask?
As a woman, a mother, a wife, a friend and a member of a community, hiding behind a mask was the only way I could survive the daily pressures. Juggling each role I had often pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a world where I could potentially fall flat on my face. To avoid being real, hiding behind a mask was essential for my protection:
- As a woman I would stay on the dieting roller coaster of starving myself to achieve the ‘perfect’ body.
- As a mother I would stay calm in public, smiling at my little angels while screaming inside that the little buggers had broken my spirit and I wanted to ‘quit’ this parenting thing.
- As a wife I would pretend I loved to attend to my husband’s needs, cooking and keeping house, while desperately trying show the world what a perfect marriage we had.
- As a friend I would try to make everyone happy, saying the right (but often the wrong) things, often feeling left out and wondering why I tried so hard.
- As a member of the community I would smile on the outside, pretending I had my shit sorted out, all the while I was falling apart.
Lucky for me I have always had lots of support and a shit load of determination to be the person I knew was hiding behind the mask. It took me to reach my 40’s before I realised that fear was the only thing that was holding me back. Fear of failing. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of looking incompetent. Fear of people seeing the ‘real’ me and not liking what they saw.
I would like to say I no longer have any fear but there are parts of my life where I still put on my confident smile and pretend I am awesome at what I am doing. As a woman I no longer diet as I have learnt that my body is my best friend, not my enemy. As a mother I admit when I have no idea what to do and when I’ve been defeated – and it has made me a better mum. As a wife I have been honest with my hubby about my struggles and that strong women need help too. As a friend I have realised friendship is a relationship that involves both people loving and caring equally. As a member of the community I now put myself out there, not to be knocked down but to learn from so many wonderful people who surround me.
So how do you stop hiding behind a mask? It can be a slow and difficult process but when you can finally walk in those Jimmy Choos you were meant to walk in, it’s worth it.
Maybe give these a try:
- Write down what actually scares you. Make it real.
- Work on one mask at a time, no need to out yourself under too much pressure.
- Force yourself to move out of your comfort zone, facing the fear head on – at least taking steps in fears direction.
- Remind yourself of any successes in the past and how good you felt after achieving them.
- Start telling yourself you CAN do this.
- Learn to believe in yourself – listen to your words.
- Doing something is better than doing nothing. Fake it until you make it.
Do you hide behind a mask?