Updated: May 21
Every day we put on a mask, actually many of them. Most days we wake up with our mask already on us, as if we don’t even know it is there. We don’t realize we are wearing a mask and other people don’t always realize it either. Our masks allow us to be someone else and to put on an act that we are another version of ourselves. It doesn’t really do much because eventually we will switch masks during different scenes. One scene we wear a mask while we are at work that only our coworkers recognize. Another scene we wear a mask for our family that shows a different side of us. When we begin to realize how many masks we wear each day, it can get tiring having to change who we are so frequently. Why can’t we just take them all off?
When we are young, about 2 or 3 years old, we only wear a mask if we are playing dress up, but we know it is just a game. But then at about age 11 or 12, we can’t take the masks off, they became a part of real life. We don't question wearing these masks all the time because all the adults in our life also wear many masks. We learn first from our parents, who wear a mask around us, which is normal to us, but then we see a different mask when our parents go in public, talking to the neighbors or our teachers. The mask controls what they do, what they say, and how they view life. We learn about many actors and heroes that wear masks and are praised for doing so, but we know they can take their mask off when they get off stage or save the day. But what about us, does anyone tell us directly that we are always wearing a mask, but that we can’t take it off as easily as they can in the fictional stories we learn about?
Let’s think more about these masks that we wear every day no matter where we are. For example, I wear a mask as a female, a daughter, an American, a millennial, an employee, a friend, a leader, a fitness instructor, a white person, a heterosexual, the list can go on and on. Every day I wear these masks and most of them I do not want to wear. I am born with these masks that make me act a certain way. If I don’t act according to script, someone will try to correct me and remind me of my lines. I don’t even remember auditioning for half of these roles, but I choose to keep acting with all of my masks on. My whole life is almost like a drama, except everyone is on stage with me and there is no audience. Everyone else is wearing their masks too and we are trying our best to receive a standing ovation that will never happen.
One day it becomes clear to us that we are wearing a mask all the time and we decide to sit in the seat to watch one scene. We notice that we are following a script pretty well because we never miss a rehearsal. Even if we forgot a line or two, we improvise because we need to stay in character to match the mask we are wearing. Eventually, after watching this drama, we realize that we are also the director and we can change the script however we want. This changes everything for us. Now we can decide which mask we want to wear and if we even want to wear a mask at all. However, it takes a lot of courage to get on stage without a mask and to not memorize any of the script. Some people might judge us because we took off our mask and now they don’t recognize who we are. They might be angry or confused because the drama is now changing unexpectedly. If we aren’t ready to face the reactions of the others on stage, we can wear our mask, but at least we know that it is only part of the act, it is not actually us.
Finding that person under those masks is not easy and society will try really hard to keep us wearing a mask as long as possible because they are the producer of the drama and want to take all the credit for the production. But, as the director and actor, we are the one in the audience and on stage, so we should really receive all the applause for all of the great acting we’ve been doing. It’s a shame they don’t pay us enough for all this work we are doing all the time. So once we realize that we are worth more than what they are paying, we can decide which mask to wear, when and for how long. Eventually we notice how great it feels to not wear a mask and we can finally breathe and be ourselves. We start to enjoy life more and feel how we did as a child when we wear the masks for fun, not because we are forced. We decided to go off script more and live our own dramas without any masks. Maybe we wonder why it took so long to realize we had all these masks on and why it was so hard to be every role in our drama without the proper preparation.
Now, with our awareness, we can be any actor we want to be and not wear any mask we don’t desire. Our true self comes so much more naturally and it doesn’t even feel like we are acting anymore. As the director, we know that we are great at what we do and that we are the best audience there is. The applause is continuous and it motivates us to keep being who we want to be, without worrying about what the other actors or the producers will say. Being the lead in our drama is now so fearless and care-free that we don’t even need to act a day in our life. Reality is such a bigger stage and suddenly doors are opening in new places we would have never imagined. So now the only question is, which masks will be the easiest to take off first?