I lose myself only to find myself only to lose myself again to the regret that lingers behind the doors I never opened. Truth I never spoke. Words I never said. Love I never confessed.
I’m not living it right. This can’t be life. I wear a mask over a mask over a mask so I can hide myself from you. I hide behind an invisible sheath of white cloth that keeps me constrained.
I know you do too. I see it all on you. I see it all on me. Fear is what I see.
Fear of being ridiculed and hated and judged and mocked…or worst…rejected and thrown on the side of the street like a piece of trash.
It hurts to feel and bleed so I conceal the real me and put on a mask before I leave my home. It’s not a real mask. It’s a fake mask. A mask only I can see and touch and feel.
I shower in it. I play in it. I kiss my nieces forehead through it.
No one knows I am wearing a mask, but at the same time everyone knows I am wearing a mask. Yet they don’t draw any attention to it because I know that they know that I know that they too are wearing a mask.
Confusing? Not really. The mask is the layer of comfort and safety we place over our fragile bodies once we reach the troubled land of adulthood.
It’s the layer we place over the real us because we’re frightened and afraid of being true to who we are.
At least I am. I don’t know why you wear the mask. But I wear the mask because it protects me from heartbreak. It makes me feel strong and secure. It puts a wall between myself and the dangers of the world. It keeps me from feeling the lows that come from being true to who I am. Or I thought it did. But that was a lie because it didn’t do any of the above for me. Instead, it ruined my life and crushed my soul.
It’s the reason I drifted through life without ever making any real and meaningful connections. I focused on career and filled up my to-do lists and I achieved one thing after another. But no matter how much I achieved or how much money I made, I still felt empty inside.
I was walking around but I was dead inside. I was 20. But that wasn’t the saddest part. The real tragedy was the realization that I wouldn’t be buried until I reached 40, or 50, or 70, or 90.
I would wake up each morning and reach for my mask before I greeted the day. And then I would come home and return to bed feeling more alienated from the world. Alone, depressed, and stressed.
I was talking to people with words that weren’t even mine. The mask made me sing their songs and dance their dance. It didn’t matter that the beat of their drums was not in alignment with the sound of my heart. I changed the sound of my heart to match the beat of their drums.
I would attend meetings with multi-millionaires and I would try to impress them. I would say things I didn’t believe to make myself look better. It was bullshit in the truest form. I lied because I wanted to be liked. I wanted to feel accepted. I wanted to feel cool. I wanted to feel important. I wanted people to view me in a grandiose light. But it didn’t work. They saw through my bullshit and saw me for the fraud that I am.
I wish I never conformed. I wish I remained a round pebble in a square home. But I didn’t. I put on the mask and became a square.
It’s not anyone’s fault, but my own. I can only point the finger inwards.
I grew up and killed the child inside me.
Responsibility and maturity, they sold it and I bought it.
It was all work, work, work – pay the bills and repeat.
I would wake up in the morning with the only thought of wanting to return to bed. The only thing that would get me through the day was the thought of how good it would feel to go back to sleep.
Life is perfect when you are asleep. For eight hours a day you get to forget about the mask. You can take it off and relax. You’re no longer pressured by responsibility, mortgages, and bills.
Everything is at ease.
Then you wake up at 3 am because the neighbor’s dog is barking and you’re back to normal life. A life lived wearing a mask and concealing the real you. It happens so fast. Then you go back to sleep and you forget about it…only to wake up at 6 am so you can rush to a job and work, work, work, and then pay your bills and repeat.
I wish I could live my entire life in my sleep. But I cannot. I have to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock and greet the “real world.”
The real word is nothing like the world I live in when I sleep.
The real world keeps us tamed. It keeps us stressed and worried and hidden and afraid and closed off from love and joy.
Happiness is a luxury we leave for our nephews and nieces.
It’s like we sign a contract once we reach adulthood that says the following:
I solemnly declare to wear a mask. I will move through life like a robot. I will never open up and be vulnerable. I will never act in alignment with the beat of my heart. Instead, I will change the beat of my heart to impress people. I will bite my tongue and become someone I’m not so I can get the job, and the money, and the girl in the pretty white dress.
I signed the contract and I dated it and I sentenced myself to years and years in mental prison. And I hate myself for that.
Don’t be like me. Be better than me.
Take off the mask and be as you are. Allow yourself the gift of love and joy and acceptance.
Don’t shy away and conform and live to impress by concealing the ugly inside you…like I did.
Embrace the ugly…with open arms…and you will be free.
Because when you take off the mask and act as you truly are, even for an hour out of the day, you open up the doors to your world.
Once the doors open, people who truly love you for you are let in.
If you never take off the mask, the doors never open. And people just like you …you never find someone who truly loves you…because no one ever got the chance to know you.
I spent majority of my life wearing a mask as I hid behind a locked door. I was scared to open up and be vulnerable. It was and still is my greatest weakness. But today I made the decision to kick down the door and to take off the mask. I hope you do the same and let the people waiting on the outside, in…before they stop knocking and give up on you…and walk away forever.