Why Do We Wear Social Masks? And How to Tear Off the Mask and Be Your Authentic Self
Halloween is a favorite holiday for many adults and children alike. We all love the playful notion of dressing up like someone we are not. Thinking about costumes and masks reminded me of the difficulty many people have removing their social masks.
Social Masks are a way to conceal your true, authentic self from the world and most people have one or more social mask that they often wear. There is nothing wrong with having a mask. Afterall the concept of the mask in theatre comes from embodying that which is not understood or that is unlike ourselves. The problem occurs when the mask refuses to be removed.
Why Do We Wear Social Masks?
1. Fear of being seen. People hide behind their costumed identity. This is because being truly seen by others puts one in a very vulnerable state. People may associate being seen with feeling exposed, misunderstood, unsafe, or open to threats. Being seen without your mask can feel like showing up naked to chemistry class. The problem is, when you don’t remove the mask, the people you want to love you will never see the real you. And then, who are they loving afterall?
2. Fear of rejection Another reason one might keep wearing a mask is that once removed, there is a chance of rejection. This is a real fear. The important thing to remember is that if someone is rejecting you- the real, maskless you- that is actually a blessing. That opens you up to meet people who want you without the mask. It saves you from needing a permanent mask to be with this person.
3. Fear of getting hurt Along with rejection, the fear of getting hurt is a major reason for keeping that mask on. The mask can make the hurt seem less intense, it can hide your feelings, and in the end, it’s not you being hurt- it’s the mask.
For all the good reasons that we keep social masks on, the benefits of taking it off are tenfold. There’s nothing better than being your true, authentic, maskless self.
How to Tear Off the Mask and Be your Authentic Self
1. Find a passion If you know what makes you wildly excited, do it. If nothing makes you feel that way spend time exploring. Find something that fills your soul with happiness. Don’t pick something that makes others happy or that makes your mask happy. Some examples from my friends: photography, suspension rope art, mediation, tantra, hiking, writing about sex, being with family…
2. Find the love for yourself.You need to love yourself without the mask in order to keep it off. Some people find that starting a gratitude journal is a great way to show love for yourself. Others need to explore in therapy barriers to truly loving themselves.
3. Get some support Tell your friends you are doing this difficult work! Ask them to support you in any way that would help. Become a part of a larger community. Go to a support or therapy group.
4. Practice If you’ve lived most of your life in a social mask, taking it off will take time. Tell yourself it’s ok to practice. It’s all right to take it off for a little while and put it back on to recharge. Be easy with yourself. It’s ok if this doesn’t happen over night.
On a final note, drama therapists know firsthand the freedom that wearing a mask can bring a person. Many people can say or do things in costume that they wouldn’t do otherwise. Use your mask to try out different possibilities and then, take it off and see what your authentic self truly desires.
Why do we pick certain masks? I’ll discuss that in the near future!