How old were you when you first put on a mask?
Not the one from the fancy dress shop, to wear when you went trick or treating, or to scare your little brother? Those masks are obvious and can be taken off and discarded easily.
And I am DEFINITELY not talking about the Covid masks that we are wearing to keep ourselves and those around us safe. We need those right now.
I’m talking about the masks that you wear when you’re in the playground, asking the popular girls if you can be part of their gang.
The ones you put on so that your mother will tell you you’re a good girl.
The masks that help you blend in and feel like you fit in, like you are accepted?
Do you even remember?
Or has the mask been there for so long you think it’s your face?
I think these masks are put on us when we are tiny babies. We don’t even put them on ourselves do we? We’re not active guests at this masked ball. We come into the world, and as soon as we have finished taking our first breath, our first mask is waiting for us.
We find that we need more and more masks as we grow up and move through life. We have to wear masks at school…masks for the teacher, masks for different groups of friends, masks for the moments when we are alone…masks at home, masks for our parents, our siblings…. And god forbid you should forget which mask you need, and wear the wrong one!
The whole world seems to want us to be a certain way, to wear the right mask, and we get so used to choosing our identity based on the expectations of the people around us, that we forget who we are and what we look like underneath.
In fact, it’s not so much that we forget. We never even got to find out.
We have spent our whole lives trying to be who the world wants us to be, so we never got to be who we actually are.
We don’t even know we are wearing these masks. There are so many of them, and we don’t even know they are there.
And they slowly suffocate us, covering our mouth and nose until we can’t breathe.
Realising that we need to take the mask off and find out who we are underneath can be terrifying.
It can be scary to try to move in the world without your mask, to learn to let other people see the real you.
It’s even scarier to allow the real you to be seen by yourself! It can feel like meeting a complete stranger, and you can find out that there are parts of yourself that you really don’t like. Which may be why you put on so many masks! The masks don’t just hide the parts we think other people don’t or won’t like. They hide the parts of ourselves we don’t like too.
But we can only really change those parts if we look at them and work out where the problems are.
We have to take off the masks gently, slowly, one at a time, and look at what we see underneath with radical, gentle, love and compassion. To acknowledge that the skin under the mask will be tender and sensitive, and needs to be treated kindly. To learn when to stop exposing it to the world, when to keep it protected, and how to soothe it when it gets painful.
If we approach the unmasking with this self-love and compassion, we will find that underneath is a treasure so precious, so magnificent, so beautiful that it will astonish us that the world wanted us to hide it.
And the more you unmask the treasure that is the real you under the mask, the brighter you shine. And the more you shine, the more you will shine a light into the dark parts, not only in yourself, but in the world around you.
And this is why we need you to unmask
Because the world needs the shine that only you can bring..
The world needs your star to shine bright, to light up the darkness and the shadows in a way that only you can.
The world is full of people who might never even know they are wearing one mask, much less that they have a whole walk-in wardrobe full of them.
But you aren’t one of those people. I know you aren’t because you are reading this. You know you are wearing those masks, and you want to take them off.
Maybe you’ve already started. You’ve probably got quite a few masks. Maybe you’ve been able to release a few of them.
But what I am learning is that sometimes, when you take one mask off, you find there is another one underneath it
I thought until this year that I had done a pretty good job of taking my masks off.
But now I think that maybe I had taken off a few and replaced them with some different ones. The new ones don’t block the air from my lungs as much as the old ones. But there are still masks there.
I am ready to strip them all away and see what I look like, naked, without my masks.
To stand boldly in all my true glory
To become who I truly am.
This is the purpose of life.
Learning who we are
Finding our gifts and our strengths
Stepping into our power.
Taking off the masks and living true to who we are, not who the world tells us we should be.
Are you ready to take off your mask and find out who you are?