Why Do We Wear Masks Everyday?

People don’t change. Only their costumes do.

Gene Moore

Once a year people replace their identities to go out on Halloween. We become infamous figures of history, television characters, and all manner of animals. We wear wigs and makeup to cover our own features. Our children excitedly dance in giant tutus or cartoon characters eager to accept free candy until they can’t walk any further. It has become a tradition of pageantry and excitement for the young (and the old on occasion. My brother and I walked an older neighborhood where an elderly woman gave us all her candy sad she had so few kids come by :(). It’s almost fascinating our obsession with the disguise filled holiday.

It’s a strange feeling of independence from ourselves that fits strangely. We have sweets or drinks and lose our own identities to become something that we aren’t; at least in our day to day roles. We feel we can do more and act out more with our names and faces a skewed behind velvet or plastic.

Superheroes Wear Masks

The superheroes that inspire us wear masks to protect their identities and loved ones from retaliation. It becomes our vision of them; without the mask how many people would see Bruce Wayne and see Batman? How many people would see Peter Parker taking pictures and think Spiderman? Their identity is represented by the mask and costume! Even the villains we so adore hating we know from their endless costumes and theatrics and less the backstory attached to them.

As kids we adore this play acting and pretend. Instead of children we can be grown up and have great adventures even if it’s all our imagination. The reverse however can be just as true but less socially acceptable. As adults we can use our imagination to quit adulting even for a few minutes or lost half hours! It can let us free ourselves and act and behave as though we are free from ourselves to be what we really want to be.

Batman with mask

 

Masks weren’t always good though. Some cultures used them as punishment stealing identity for a label of sinner or wrongdoer among others. Heavy metal weighing down one’s head and locked on we’re not uncommon. (I.e. The man in the iron mask). The KKK and such notorious groups wore masks to hide their dark behavior from their neighbor’s and friends.

The sad truth to many of these ideas is that not all our play acting is completely for just our own benefit. We know what other people expect from us at different times. As children we are urged to be still and listen despite our desire to play or shout and as teenagers we are urged to follow rules and study when our peers want us to be out exploring adolescence more liberally. As young adults roles are at a strange time with terms like ‘boomerang kids’ and ‘millennial’s’ making even a time of self discovery feel mapped out.

spiderman

I felt so inline with this quote for most of my life. That to make others happy I should fit behind these masks when around them; and for a long time it halfway worked. For everyone else. For me I felt as though I were constantly lying (which I often was my husband points out) and to the end of the comfort of everyone else. So slowly (very slowly there are people who even now shove that door closed when I try to let more of myself out), I became myself more. I let myself reveal the pieces of myself that I rarely scared and the real versions of me. It hasn’t been an easy or fun process but my comfort level with myself had overloaded. From now on; the only mask I wear is for myself.

Journaling Prompt

To forearm you against yourself; you are going to be pretty emotional if you’re anything like me through this.

Map out key people in your life and how you feel you must behave or speak in front of them. Don’t justify just focus on the changes you feel are required with them. Let it soak in and put some thought into it. I did this version for myself !

Why Do We Wear Masks Everyday?

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