12. I’m grateful for the moments the masks come off.
“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
This is one of the most iconic and famous quotes of all time (by André Berthiaume, used in The Mask, 1994). And it’s true.
I’ve been looking at the “masks” I’ve been wearing lately, and it’s been clearer to me than ever before. I thought about my childhood and realized I used to hide behind the popularity of my friends to latch onto their social achievements. In high school I hid behind the same sports, music, fashion, and hobbies as my friends or crushes, so I could feel a part of something. I’ve hidden behind relationships and my dreams of the future because it brought me validation and purpose. I’ve hidden behind career successes and education because it brought me stability and something to feel proud of. More recently, I’ve been hiding behind the epic illusion that social media displays of my life. This is my highlight reel.
Go on Facebook or Instagram and you will only see the good in my life. The fun things I do, the awesome friends I have, the adventures I get to go on, beautiful pictures of places that I’ve visited once in my life. And from the outside it probably looks like I have a pretty awesome life. This gratitude journal is reminding me of all the blessings that I have, and they are all real. But, it’s only one side of my life.
You will never hear or see posts of the times I curl up in bed at 3:30 p.m., forcing myself to sleep because I can’t deal with the day anymore. You’ll never know the times I sneak out of my house for a long walk because I’m afraid of my weakness showing and I feel like I’m about to explode. You’ll never know the times I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep because the second I’m conscious all my thoughts start coming in. You’ll never know about any of that from social media, because it doesn’t make the cut. If it’s not happy, funny, or presents my life to be interesting, it shouldn’t be shared. That’s my mask. Because once you let someone in on the troubles of your life, they’ll never forget it. You’re letting someone in and making yourself vulnerable. And for the majority of people, that’s too uncomfortable to do. So we wear a mask to hide from letting people that close.
What people think about me has always concerned me. I will share or post something and want to take it back after a few minutes because I’m worried that a lack of reaction means people hate it. Why do we do that? Insecurity? Fear of rejection? Fear of coming off the wrong way? Whatever it is, it fuels our impulse to hide behind these things. Being vulnerable and transparent is scary. It’s probably scarier than getting chased by a mass murderer, but we are so used to living in that state of fear that we don’t even notice it anymore. But I’m aware I do this… and it takes time and care to figure out who and when and what and how to share these deeper things. But it’s always been and will be worth it because you build real connections this way. That’s how trust starts to happen. And trust leads to a more genuine feeling of safety than wearing a mask.
So, while the mask provides temporary security as we hide behind various things, true safety will only happen after we take those masks off, be brave, and find out who accepts and loves us for who we truly are; find who we can count on. I’m grateful for those moments when I can be vulnerable, and the people with whom I can be vulnerable with. And of course, I thank God for knowing me fully and loving me regardless of all my imperfections and failures. This truth gives helps lead me to peace when I have those moments of fear. If He’s looking out for me, does it really matter what anyone else does to me or thinks about me? This reminds me of a great song by Tauren Wells (my mom and I are loving his music right now):
It’s so like You to keep pursuing
It’s so like me to go astray
But You guard my heart with Your truth
A kind of love that’s bulletproof
And I surrender to Your kindness
I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You