NaBloPoMo: Monday, October 1, 2012
Wearing a Mask & Hiding Your True Persona
Halloween is fast approaching and we’re all beginning to think about what sort of costumes we would like to pick out for this years parties and trick-or-treating. Wearing a mask on Halloween is always fun, especially since we get to pretend we’re someone or something else for a few hours. Of course everyone knows who you really are underneath the cloth or plastic molded mask, but for one day a year we can change our entire persona and act like someone else.
Todays NaBloPoMo blog prompt asks, "When you saw the word mask, was your first interpretation protection, covering up, persona, or performance?". The theme for this months NaBloPoMo through BlogHer is Mask, which is suitably fitting for the entire month of October, but there are many other ways that we can relate the word in everyday life way beyond Halloween costumes.
My first interpretation was actually persona since I’ve been faced with several occurrences lately that involve fellow bloggers either lying, pretending to be someone they are not, cheating, copying, or backstabbing others to get somewhere (which won’t happen doing things the wrong way).
Masking who you are leads to a life full of lies, insecurities, and an inability to ever know who you truly are deep down inside. Pretending only results in having to lead a life full of misguided decisions as we begin to make our choices based on what our fake persona would do.
The topic of wearing masks always reminds me of a great book that I had to read during a Morality class in high school, "Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?", which is a personal psychology book that teaches us about all the different types of masks that we wear on a daily basis. This book made such an impact on discovering who I truly am and what I want people to see and feel when they look at me — I have actually read the book nearly every year since graduating high school (how many books can you say that about!?).
"To understand people, I must try to hear what they are not saying, what they perhaps will never be able to say."
– John Powell, "Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?"
Ask yourself: How many people know who I am?
Answering this question isn’t easy, especially once you start to actually THINK about it. Your close friends and a select few family members will likely be the only ones that can predict your every move, or know what you are thinking before it is said. Everyone else is only watching a "mask" or "role" that you play on a daily basis.
Uncovering my masks and revealing who I am beneath the mom, blogger, and business owner doesn’t come easy. We all like to think that we are an "as is" package, but there’s always something we’re trying to mask and coverup; hiding certain qualities can sometimes make us feel like … maybe we are "normal"?
No matter how many different masks I wear throughout the day, I know that my family can always rely on me as the mom, wife, friend, and a shoulder to cry on once the sun goes down. Being true to myself and what I believe in has always been an important quality that I strive to maintain on a daily basis, but we’re all prone to slipping up – right?
Some of the most memorable masks that stood out from Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am by John Powell:
Always Right: Someone who never or rarely loses an argument. Even when the evidence begins to stack up against him, he can salvage respect for his position. Does not listen well and gives the appearance of expecting to learn little if anything from others. Acts doubly certain in order to guard against demoralizing doubts which stir in his subconscious and tend to undermine his certainty. His behavior indicates the opposite of what seems to be true. He has deep, if subconscious, doubts about himself and his opinions.
All Heart: Follows his heart in all matters, to the point that others wonder if the head is operative at all. The heart decides everything. He can show all kinds of soft emotions, but will rarely if ever report harsher emotions precisely because he is afraid of these and must keep them repressed. Women are more inclined to this "reaction formation" because our society programs them to believe that hostile or cruel emotions are particularly horrifying in a woman.
The Body Beautiful: Usually physical vanity is a compensation for a gnawing sense of inferiority as a person. The beautiful or handsome person who plays this game, keeps staring into the mirror on the wall and into the mirror of the eyes of others (or in any shiny surface) for his own reflection, because he cannot find any deeper consolations.
The Braggart: The game is a childish attempt to assert one’s superiority. It is one of the various manifestations of arrested emotional development. The braggart is usually a bully, too, if the situation allows. He wants to dominate others, either by words or, if he feels sure of himself, by physical strength. The indication is lack of self-esteem. He wants to feel important and discovers nothing in himself that satisfies this need. We sometimes ask him: "Are you trying to convince us or yourself?" The answer is: both.
The Clown: The compulsive clown is, like most of us, seeking some sort of recognition and attention. The sadness is that he thinks he can gain notice only by playing the fool for others. Deeper than this, it may be that he identifies with his act and tries to evade reality by taking nothing seriously. Clowning is sometimes an escape device. The clown doesn’t know how to handle himself in a serious situation or how to react to sorrow, so he adopts an attitude of irresponsible gaiety. In dealing with others, his clowning serves as an adequate defensive mask (like the mask of the circus clown) to prevent others from knowing who he really is.
The Conformist: This game is called "peace at any price," and the price is surrender of all individuality to others. The conformist won’t or can’t risk the non-acceptance of others. He is often praised for his willingness to "go along," but he pays a high price in repressed emotions for the pittances of praise which he receives.
The Crank: The neurotic tendency which characterizes the crank is a low frustration tolerance. He doesn’t do very well in situations of strain and stress. He feels deprived of personal security. He feels less sure of himself when things go wrong and nurses a long list of pet peeves, which he publishes for others from time to time.
The Cynic: Basically, the cynic is a demoralized unrealist. Things have failed to turn out the way he wanted them, and so he takes his pain of disillusion out on everyone. You can’t trust anyone. The whole system is corrupt. As long as he persists in his role as cynic, he won’t have to take an honest look at himself and his world nor go through the pains of adjustment to reality. Consequently, he is a very lonely person behind his "smirk."
Deluded by Grandeur: The game grows out of a mistaken sense of personal importance. He is a name dropper and tends to be "I-centered" in conversation. Like the braggart, this person plays a game of compensation for inadequate self-esteem. There is always some effort to protect the ego from humiliation. He usually dreams about some magnificent memento by which the world will remember him when he is gone.
The Dominator: This game is characterized by an exaggerated desire to control the lives of others as well as their thought processes. Like most people who exaggerate their importance or wisdom, the dominator is bothered by subconscious feelings of inadequacy. He usually explains his domination as necessary, reasonable and justifiable. The dominator is very often troubled by feelings of hostility. As he represses these, they find expression in selfishness and thoughtlessness in dealing with those he is supposed to love.
The Dreamer: The game is clearly an "escape" game. The dreamer is intent upon flight from reality. He achieves great things in his fantasy world, where he receives recognition and honors. Very often his dreams are a substitute for achievement and represent some kind of compensation for his lack of success with and in the real world. Very often the dreamer has ambitioned more than his abilities could reach, and he has to compensate himself in fantasy for his disappointment in reality. This is called "neurotic fiction." He has an alibi to to explain every actual failure. He can’t bring his ambitions into line with his abilities. What he needs most is courage to accept himself as he is.
The Problem Drinker/The Dope Addict: The dreamer escapes from reality on the magic rug of his fantasy; the drinker tries the route of narcosis. Those who are most vulnerable to stress are usually most in need of an escape. Addiction to drink or pot, etc. is usually found in those who react poorly to deprivation, who are most easily overcome by defeat and who are most self-conscious and ill at ease with others.
The Flirt: The "flirting game" is basically an attempt to gain for the ego some kind of recognition. it is usually played by those who have never cultivated any real emotional depth. Only deeper relationships can result in security for the ego. The "flirt" refuses to take the gamble of these more self-revealing relationships; he keeps running.
The Gossip: Unable to make the full use of his own abilities and being a defeatist at heart, and sorry for himself because he cannot measure up to his own ego ideal, he chooses to elevate his own self-esteem by undermining the esteem of others. Superiority and inferiority being relative terms, lowering others seems to raise one’s own status.
The Hedonist: The "my pleasure before all" type person tries to hide his emotional immaturity under various euphemisms ("just for kicks!"), but the immaturity surfaces quickly in relationships. It is characteristic of the child and the neurotic (the emotional child) that he must have his pleasure and have it immediately. he will not inhibit for long any impulse to indulge himself. He is not able to suspend his grasping for pleasure even long enough to look at the implications of his actions.
I…I…I: it is almost a universal law that the extent of egocentrism in any person is proportionate to the amount of pain in him. It is a question of attention. Preoccupation with self often evolves into hypochondria (overconcern with health) or paranoia (persecution complex). The egocentric does not mind what the contents of the conversation are about as long as they are about him.
Indecisive and Uncertain: It has been said that the greatest mistake a man can make is to be afraid of making mistakes. Indecision and uncertainty are ways of avoiding mistakes and responsibility. The basic problem here is self-esteem and the protection of self-esteem. People who are indecisive fear that they will lose respect if their decision turns out to be wrong. The name of the game is safety and self-protection; the motto: Nothing attempted, nothing lost.
The Messiah: The Messiah fancies himself savior of the human race. It could well be a reaction-formation to the fear of insignificance. He thinks of himself as the "helper" and others as the "helped" in almost all of his relationships. Instead of urging others to use their own strength and wisdom, he dutifully lends out his. The gain of the game is a rather large, expansive feeling and a long, well-memorized list of those whom he has helped. Basically, the Messiah has inferiority feelings and seeks to free himself from these by dominating others emotionally.
So.. which mask do you want to rip off for the month of October?
Do YOU know who YOU are, or does someone else know you better?