The Masks we Wear

Before reading this post, do yourself a favour and go check out this link –  My husband (Leon) shared this link with me last night, which didn’t start my thinking, but it definitely gave my thinking a huge kick on my behind.  My thinking was initiated earlier this week when I decided I want to research and do some work on envy, which is paired by a lot of guilt for me (a post for another day).  One of the definitions of envy according to Wikipedia – “Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.”  The key in this definition for me was the word perceived – i.e. it is not necessarily true, it is how we see it through our view of the world.  Francois also shared a link about personas – the article highlighted how we all wear masks in the world, but questioned whether we can truly wear one mask to the outside world without losing our true self.  I will post the link once I find it again.

My thought process started by asking myself who I truly am and what the different aspects of me are.  I worked out a plan of how I am going to get closer to myself – listing all the activities I take pleasure from in life, or had in the past, asking people to describe characteristics of me, and knowing that I would probably find more ways to get closer to me as I go down the rabbit hole.  However the clip Leon showed me had me in tears, instantly.  I had to take a step back and ask myself why I reacted so strongly to the clip.  I realised that (for probably the fourth time in two weeks) the message is quite clear – I am too hard on myself, way too hard on myself. I reflected on this for a short moment before I went to bed the night before, and thoughts that came to mind was that I see so little of the good in me, that I’m probably denying people access to some of my greatness, and even worse, myself.

The harsher thoughts are that I see myself as ugly.  Literally in physical terms, as some days I absolutely hate my body and see nothing right with it.  But then also emotionally and subconsciously.  I don’t see my successes, I don’t celebrate them.  Even worse, I don’t celebrate me.  By putting on these masks, I think I have started masking myself from me.  People see things in me that I only see in superheroes and rock stars, not in me.  Are they blind?  I doubt it, blind people are visually impaired and cannot see things.  I am the one who is blind.

This morning I was on the indoor trainer, my thinking booth.  I reflected on the clip and my reaction again, asking myself how I am going to change my harshness on me.  I decided to look at it from a different perspective – why am I so hard on myself.  My flop at the moment is that I am ashamed.  I.e. when results aren’t as I would like them, I measure them up to this phrase – being ashamed.  This very quickly gives me an indication of whether this result is truly as bad as I think it is, or if it seems that way because of an underlying belief, and then shrug it off if it is because I’m looking at it the wrong way.  In cases where it is not because of my flop, I know I need to change something.  I then worked through my list of things I am ashamed of, which was an eye opener:

  • I am ashamed that I achieve a lot on my life and it makes me feel like an overachiever, something which has been frowned upon since the first day of school.
  • I am ashamed of my figure and that I set goals in sport that may seem pointless to other people.  I am ashamed that I wake up before 4 some mornings to do my sport and do activities other than work and drinking at parties.
  • I am ashamed that I was a free spirit as a young adult and may have broken a number of rules made by the christian religion.  I am also ashamed that I rejected/rebelled against religion since a very young age in life.
  • I am ashamed that I had been a very difficult teenager giving my parents lot of hell.
  • I am ashamed that I may have broken a number of people’s hearts in my searches for my soul mate.
  • I am ashamed that I cannot help my team mate (and friend) to the finish line, I am ashamed that I cannot keep up with her, and I am mostly ashamed that I envy her strength and successes.

This is only a couple of the things that came to mind.  After I completed this exercise, I felt like a bit of a looser and as if things weren’t closed of.  So then I asked the next question – what are all the things that I am not seeing in myself due to my flop.  This basically translates to – what were my achievements.  A couple of them were:

  • I have been Gauteng champ twice in my life, and been on the podium multiple times in the past two years.  I am in the top 20 females in cycling in SA, and the top 5 in my age category.
  • I have been head hunted from my previous position at the JSE to lead a team in another department, and often get asked if I don’t want to come back.  I am still a brilliant Business Analyst, with a strong eye for detail and problem solving skills.
  • I have a body most women would die for, and build muscle must faster than I actually build the physical strength. I remember when I used to do rock climbing, guys were in awe of the muscles in my back…that is pretty cool…
  • I was one of the only people in our friend circle at varsity who finished math within 2 years and didn’t need to do special matric math in my first year.
  • I am an awesome partner and friend to Leon, supporting him in life.  I am also a good mom to Cassidy, our daughter.  When she needed support, we were there to hold out our hands and willing to give of ourselves to provide her the support she has never had.
  • I am good at writing 🙂

My biggest realisation this weekend has been that by only being 20% of me, I have achieved a remarkable number of things.  I have been hiding behind so many masks for so long that I am hiding from myself, not the world.  Ask yourself whether the masks you put up to the world are truly bringing you any value.  The world still see the real us, even through all the masks we try to put on.  The nice thing about this is that they don’t only see the weak and the flaws.  They see our true beauty, the beauty that we are too scared to see within ourselves.  Imagine how much more we can achieve when we become the 100% that other people see in us.