Who Is Behind That Mask?

When the last firework popped on the Fourth of July, most stores had their Halloween displays up and running. For months, children have been planning what they are going to wear and who they are going to be. When they put on those costumes; in their minds, they actually become someone else. When I was teaching kindergarten, I had one little guy who dressed as a dog, barked his conversations and wouldn’t sit at his desk because as he said, “Dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture.” He took his costume seriously and I was just glad that he agreed to use the restroom instead of a tree!

Every now and then, it is fun to wear costumes and masks and become someone else. People do it all the time in theatrical productions and I have always found it to be rather freeing to leave myself behind and become someone more exciting, exotic, beautiful, fun, etc.

The trick is to remember when you are playing a part and when you are you. I once played a southern belle in a production and I loved her. For weeks after the play closed, I wanted to sew hoops in all of my skirts and sip mint juleps on the veranda. It didn’t work for me because it seems that in Phoenix, Arizona we don’t have verandas and people don’t appreciate hearing “Oh Fiddle Dee Dee, aren’t I just a silly goose?” as an excuse for cutting in front of them in a grocery checkout line.

We all wear masks occasionally; not the kind that we wear in plays or at Halloween, but the faces behind which we hide when we feel uneasy, unsure or frightened. We read a lot about the concept of authenticity, and being yourself. To me, that just means sticking to your core values and knowing which things in your life are non-negotiable. It means not spending too much time hiding behind masks which do not reflect who you really are. It means trying to be someone you’re not in order to please someone else. It means refusing to compromise your beliefs and values in order to fit in.

I am planning on wearing a mask on Halloween….or possibly I will just go without makeup because that is certainly a frightening sight! But I wish for all of us, the confidence to go through life being true to ourselves and saving the masks for special occasions.

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