“But I can’t let them know who I really am,” she said over the phone, “because they’d be so disappointed.”
It wasn’t anything news worthy that she thought would leave her friends, relations, and church aghast, just general I-can’t-do-everything humanity. I said she was human, just like everything else, so she wasn’t perfect, just like everyone else. But unfortunately my friend thought she couldn’t allow anyone to see behind her carefully constructed social mask.
I think in our culture we learn at a young age that life is a large and elaborate 24/7 masquerade ball and that if you’re going to play the game you have to keep all shortcomings, struggles, pain, and imperfections out of sight … just like everyone else.
Unfortunately, while we watch the endless parade of smiling, confident faces stroll past us on TV, at school, or in the produce section at the grocery store it seems like we often forget we’re even attending a masquerade ball. Everyone else appears beautiful and well put together—we forget about the shapewear and fake smiles that are involved—making us cling a little tighter to our own masks hoping no one will notice the confident, perfect grins we’re showcasing will smear the next time it rains.
It seems to work like dominos: all it takes is one person deciding to sport a mask, resulting in the folks around them analyze their own wrinkled, pimply faces and deciding a mask is the obvious solution. It doesn’t take long before there isn’t a single person left who even remembers what it’s like to be transparent, honest, and real.
Scary and Broken:
Society tells us how we’re supposed to be as normal and all-American as The Brady Bunch, but if people truly knew us we’d all probably come closer to resembling The Addams Family—eccentric, a little scary, and just downright weird. I think we’re all at least a little scary and broken.
I know my friend isn’t alone in feeling afraid to let people see the real her; people are hurting, grieving, living, and dying alone. And the most heartbreaking part is that there are others who are just as scary and broken as they are, but they’re also hiding behind a painted smile … just like everyone else.