Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up. I even have a costume trunk in my living room. 11 months out of the year, I use it as a coffee table. But in October, I dig through it and try to figure out what I should be for Halloween.
Playing a Part
I think one of the things I love most about Halloween and dressing up is the opportunity to take on the identity or persona of someone completely different. A few years ago, I dressed up as Ivan Drago from the Rocky movies. I’m not Ivan Drago. I’m not as strong as he is. I’ve never boxed or even won a fight. But for one night, I took on his persona. I wore the red trunks and boxing robe. I played the part.
I wonder how often we try to play a part in our everyday lives.
Kids Show Their True Selves
One thing I love most about kids is they don’t hold back who they truly are. If they are happy, they smile and laugh. If they are sad, they cry. If they are mad, they yell and stomp their feet. They play and love freely. They aren’t afraid to show their true selves to the world.
Adults Wear Masks
But as we grow up, we learn certain parts of ourselves are accepted and rewarded, and other parts are rejected and punished. We get in the habit of showing some parts of ourselves to the world, and hiding others. We project a persona of what we think other people want to see. We wear masks and hide our true selves.
Wearing Masks Hurts Ourselves
Wearing masks hurts ourselves because we know at a deep level we aren’t living in integrity, in close connection with who we really are. We feel pressure to maintain our masks. We think if people knew what we really were like, they would reject us.
Wearing Masks Hurts Relationship
In addition to hurting ourselves, wearing masks hurts our relationships with others. True intimacy means we are truly known and truly know others, as we really are. When we wear masks, we block the opportunity for true intimacy to happen.
Wearing Masks Hurts Relationship with God
Finally, if we are spiritual or religious, wearing masks hurts our relationship with God. God desires a relationship with us that is open, honest, and vulnerable, including all parts of us. Just like wearing masks blocks intimacy with others, it also blocks intimacy with God.
What Masks Do You Wear?
What masks do you wear? Perhaps you hide behind a job or position. Maybe you hide behind a certain persona, like the “funny guy” or the “girl who has her stuff together.” The first step is to identify the ways we hide our true selves.
After you identify a mask you wear, try to experiment with taking off the mask, just for a short time. (You can always put it back on.) Maybe you could start with someone you trust, and try something that reflects your true self. Maybe you could share how you are really doing, even if you are struggling. Perhaps you could put a want or need on the table, even if it “isn’t cool.”
What are you going to be for Halloween this year? More importantly, what masks do you wear in your everyday life? What is one step you could take today toward dropping your mask and living into your true self?