Beneath the masks

I remember once reading a quote that went along the lines of “It is impossible for a man to constantly wear a mask in the presence of others without forgetting who he is beneath it.”

This is not a particularly revolutionary post, but I wanted to write it anyway. I think that so many people wear masks in each other’s companies, most of them without realising it. So many people move through the world with these masks on, keeping everyone at arm’s lengths and interacting only as much as necessary to function smoothly. When we are by ourselves or with our closest companions we dare to show a little (but not often all) of who we are beneath the masks.

And that’s really sad. Being fully present and having a meaningful connection, eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, with another living creature is valuable beyond measure. Yet we’re scared to. We’re scared of being judged for who we really are. And that makes us insecure, defensive, withdrawn.

Yet if we were to all take off our masks together, we might find something magical happen. When all of us are being ourselves, none of us are willing to judge one another because we see the likeness reflected in others. We see how similar people are, in spite of our minute differences, and we cannot hate them, cannot be scared of them, because they are us and we are them.

When I was on Kairos, we were given a card with a prayer on it. It’s on the wall of my bedroom (though my eyes pass over it without reading it anymore), and it discusses what a friend really is. It describes a friend as “A person with whom you can be yourself”, and never have I found a more perfect definition.

If only more of us were willing to take off our masks and see each other honestly, with vulnerability and genuineness, we might find there was nothing to fear after all.

I still hope that somewhere out there is a job that will accept me for who I am.

All the best my friends.

-Xin

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