Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
Dear Kianna, who I am around my friends and in public is a lot different than who I am when I am by myself. I am afraid to expose the real me, afraid I will not be accepted. What do you think? -Hidden
Dear Hidden, you are not alone. We all wear masks to hide pieces of ourselves that we are scared, ashamed, embarrassed, or hesitant to share. Think about how many times we all say, “I’m fine” or “I’m doing well” when someone asks how we are doing. Really? Are we always fine? Are we always doing well? Truthfully, no.
I think back to all the times I was asked this question and replied “good” or “great!” In reality, my answer should have been, “You know, I’m really having a tough day. I’m stressed about an upcoming test, I had a difficult conversation with a friend, my family member is sick, etc.” It is so much easier and a lot less vulnerable to say, “I’m doing fine,” when truthfully, you are hurting inside. It is a lot safer to hide these parts of ourselves, the emotions, the rawness, the difficulties, and the pains. It is much scarier to share all of you, the triumphs and the struggles- when you can simply hide behind the good.
Nevertheless, is this really the way to live? Plastered behind a wall of masks, too afraid to show one’s true self?
What are the masks you wear? Why do you wear those masks? Take some time to sit with yourself and think about these questions. Seek to discover more about who you are and who you want to become.
Here are a few of the common masks we wear as individuals: always smiling and acting like you are happy all of the time and using your smile to cover up the internal pain, acting like you are tough and can handle anything that comes your way to hide the vulnerable and scared side of you, using humor and joking around about everything, to cover up or mask the pain you face inside, being cocky or overly-complimenting oneself or making fun of others to bring yourself up to mask your own insecurities and lack of confidence.
If you can relate to any of these situations, you are not alone. Exposure is difficult. Being honest and truthful is scary. Living an authentic life takes a lot of hard work. But, it is this authenticity that leads to true freedom. And a life of true freedom is the path we are each called to live.
Imagine what it would be like if you were truly free, to be who you are and not be afraid or ashamed of yourself, weaknesses, strengths, and all. To have the courage to admit to your friends and others around you when you are feeling down or struggling. To have the strength to admit your own faults and grow from them. To have the bravery to be you.
Breaking free from the masks we wear is a lifelong journey. This adventure is one worth seeking, as true freedom and authenticity are the keys to happiness, confidence, and inner strength. You can do this, and you are worth the fight.
Once you are honest with yourself and recognize the masks you wear, then you can begin the process of acceptance and freedom. Slowly but surely, you will let go of the barriers that prevent you from being yourself. This is when the beauty, growth, and goodness will shine.
I have been working on this process throughout the past year, and I wish to share something I have learned. I love to smile and am a joyful, upbeat, and positive person, but it does not mean that I have to hide beyond the joy I express. I can smile, but also cry. I can smile and have bad days as well. I can smile and be sad too. All emotions are beautiful and valid. It is wonderful to be happy and to face challenges- that is the exciting part about being human. We are so complex and are not confined to just a single emotion or expression. The human species is vast and comprised of such complex feelings.
Do not be afraid. There is nothing more meaningful or satisfactory than learning to accept who you are and not be afraid to show it- to not feel the need to hide, run away, or portray yourself in different ways. To just be you.
May God Bless you all.