In many situations, people put on a mask and act differently than who they really are. This mask is a cover up used to avoid being vulnerable—that somehow, they would be rejected by others if they were to show who they really are. These people are worried that the world might think of them negatively when they are themselves. So, they put on a mask and pretend to be someone they are not. This can come in the form of not sticking up for what you believe in because you are afraid what others would think of you, bullying when you feel powerless, spewing random facts when you feel unintelligent, and in various other ways. When you put on the mask, things spiral out of your control. You become a bystander and a leaf in the wind to the storm of life.

 

I have learned firsthand the cost of wearing the mask. I lost all my best friendships growing up because I tried to be some cool kid. I didn’t know how to cope with graduating 8th grade, or my own personal issues at the time, and I turned into a jerk while trying to be “the man.” By the time I graduated 8th grade, my friends didn’t want to hang out with me. I knew deep down I was not good to them and felt guilty about trying to hang out with them. The person they called one of their best friends, grew up with, played sports with, and hung out with every weekend of grade school, had disappeared. The mask I put on ruined the only friendships I had in my life at the time. Wearing a mask comes at a steep price.

 

You can avoid this cost and reap the benefits of avoiding the mask. When the mask is gone, you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders when you stop acting. There are no more webs of lies to dance around, just the peace that comes from being yourself. The mind is clearer, not filled with constant contradictions. There is not a flurry of thoughts running through your mind thinking what should I say? What should I do? You just are what you are. You say and do what comes to mind and that is that. It is a liberating feeling to act in accordance with who you are; where there are no inconsistencies. Anytime you perform out of line, it feels unnatural and you act to fix it. When you are held accountable by just yourself and not multiple personas, it is easier to identify your mistrials and fix them.

 

It took me seven years to right my greatest wrong in my eyes. We will be correcting our wrongs throughout our lives. The sooner we accept our wrongs and try to right them, the quicker we grow as a person and learn from our mistakes. It took me until I was wandering the streets of Florence. I figured that, at that moment, the greatest regret in my life was damaging these friendships I had in grade school. So, in the late fall before I returned for Christmas, I decided I was going to invite the old entourage to my home. I decided I would give them all wallets with their initials engraved on them to make up for the birthdays I’d missed over the years and another way of saying sorry. The night allowed me to be at peace because I had fixed, in my eyes, my greatest regret I had in life. I went abroad and found the courage to try and make up for my wrongs with how I saw fit. When my mask was off abroad, I figured out how to heal my wounds and to find the courage to do what I knew I should do. When the mask is uncovered, the good in your heart shines out.

“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” – Rick Warren

Activity

Take off the mask for a day and see how good you feel. You might feel freer than ever before.

Exercise 8

 

Who do I act differently in front of? What do I do that “isn’t me?” In other words, what mask(s) do I wear?

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How does it make me feel when I know I’m not being myself? How does it make others think of me? Does faking my personality really make them like me more?

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How did it change these relationships after removing the mask(s) for a week? How did it make you feel?

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