What's up, Doc?
My favorite Halloween costume of all time was Bugs Bunny with a mask that my mother made for me. The mask was cloth, durable, and three times bigger than my five-year-old head. I kept it past the Halloween when I first wore it and even took it to college with me. Sometimes, I would run around the dorm with it on my head just because it was fun to freak people out. It was still too big, but I wore it. At least, I loved it, and I wasn’t hiding. How many of us in our lives wear masks that don’t fit us, but we still wear them? We mask who we really are for whatever reason we think is important.
It’s always a question of what people will say. What will they think? We’re always conditioned to be aware of how other people perceive us because if they don’t approve they can deny us something. Their friendship. A job. Their love. Whatever we think they can give us that we don’t already have.
The masks I have worn
What that leads to, sometimes, is us hiding who we really are. We put whatever mask on that fits. My first one was the demure, soft-spoken, traditional Indian girl. I can give you all of those traits, but they are not where I live. I can be the hammer of the gods if I need to be, and I will question the status quo all day long.
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe said, “I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.” My problem is: I’m always smart, and most people don’t like it. Sometimes, I observe in a situation, and it can appear like the blinders are on because I’m not saying anything. When I’m really paying attention, I observe a lot, but I can stay quiet because someone may not be ready for the truth as I perceive it. Granted, there’s a time and place for everything, but even if I know you well, I might seal my lips.
Sometimes, I’m just hiding behind a silent, brooding facade. I am shy and introverted by nature, so I don’t like to stick out. When I was in college, someone I eventually became close friends with told me she thought I was a snob when she first met me. I surprised her when I opened up and talked to her more. That happens to me sometimes. People see my reserve as some sort of superiority complex. Or, they just think I’m quiet. Actually, most of the time, I’m just observing the situation before I dive in. If I know you, I can talk your ear off all day long. That’s who I really am, but I may not show you that right away.
Stepping from behind the mask
Instead of deciding which mask to wear, maybe we should decide just to speak our truth. We’re so caught up in what we could lose or what we may not gain that we lay our paths almost too carefully. We make ourselves palatable to whoever we need to. That’s something I still work on. The trick is to feel comfortable within ourselves and allow everyone else to follow that lead.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer