What are you hiding? What does your mask conceal? I have several masks I wear, each one hiding something different depending on the circumstances.
At work, I try to hide everything about my life away from work. Sometimes I avoid the inevitable questions, sometimes I lie, but usually I say as little as possible when someone asks how my weekend was, or if I had a nice holiday. I don’t want to talk about my life because I don’t think they are interested in how depressing my life really is. People like to talk about things they are proud of, but I try to hide the fact I don’t have anything to be proud of.
Sometimes I want to hide my social anxiety, but I’m pretty sure I fail miserably. With nameless strangers I can sometimes hide the fact I am panicking on the inside, but normally I just avoid those situations. It is harder when I am forced into a situation I can’t avoid, and I have to pretend I am okay. It takes so much effort to pretend, but I feel like I can’t let myself crack under the pressure.
I feel the most fraudulent and vulnerable when I put on my professional mask. At work sometimes I feel I have to project a persona that is not me at all, someone that is friendly and outgoing and intelligent. This is the most difficult for me, because in these moments I feel none of these things. I am afraid of being exposed as a phony, which would lead to potentially disastrous consequences at work. I am more afraid of being embarrassed or ashamed in front of others.
At home, sometimes I feel like I need wear a mask to hide my mental state at the moment, because my family either can’t deal with my problems or I don’t feel like they would understand. Mrs. Fish already is strained by worrying about money and her frustration with Nicole’s illness, and her response is to get mad and work longer hours. I don’t want to be the cause of that, so I put on a stoic face and pretend everything is okay.
Sometimes I need to hide my thoughts from Nicole, and this is difficult because she is good at reading me sometimes. She knows how to ask questions that make me uncomfortable and put me on guard. I feel like I have to block her out to keep my psyche safe from being hurt. I realize this may not be true, and is probably the result of a lifetime of low self-esteem and undeveloped social skills.
The most ironic is when I feel like I have to wear a mask for my few friends. I don’t want to be the person who brings them down, so I can’t let them know how I am really feeling, even though they are the most likely people to understand. But if our entire friendship is based on a fake persona, is that even a genuine friendship? I am afraid they won’t want to be friends with the real me, so I keep a mask on. Sometimes I let it slip just a little for certain people, but I never let them see very far inside.
The reason I put so much of my life on this blog is because I don’t have anywhere else to share it all. I try to be real here, and it is as unfiltered and unmasked as I can allow. If you become my friend after reading my words, I guess I really can feel safe with you, because you have seen me at my worst and not abandoned me. If you decide to hurt me at some point, it will be devastating.