The Masks We Wear

For whom and I writing? If I am writing for myself, then why am I publishing these scribbles publicly? If I am writing for others, why do I spend so much time navel-gazing? It is an interesting dichotomy, and one which has gotten me thinking about masks.

Whether we do it consciously or not, we all wear masks. Not physically of course, but socially and mentally. I for one know I am not the same person when I am talking to my coworkers versus my good friends. I act differently, but I also find myself thinking differently, almost playing a role depending on the situation. My girlfriend sees different sides of me than my parents or brother do, and not just in the obvious ways (sorry bro, you’re just not my type). I see myself in yet another light, given that I spend a whole lot of time trapped in my own head with my thoughts, from dreary to delightful. And that is all well and good; like I said, everyone must do that to some extent. But how does this relate to my blogging?

Let’s go back to the issue of target audience, as the answer to that question is key. If I am writing for an audience, then inevitably I will want to wear a mask, present myself in a way that is familiar to my readers. But this shaping may change what I am comfortable saying, the topics I cover. If I am writing for myself, then I am free to strip away the masks, to reveal the secret darkness that often lies within. In this way, my writing here could serve to short-circuit the masks I wear, revealing things to people in ways I might otherwise want to avoid. Such is the peril of public writing, I suppose.

But as I write this, I have started to realize that I may have less to worry about than I thought. I am my own person, warts and all (only two on my right ankle, thank you very much). The masks I wear in public are just that: masks, expedient shortcuts to facilitate social interaction. None of them encompass the whole of my personality. Nor should they: if I find a role starting to take over my life, then it is not serving its intended function. The masks are my tools, and I am not their servant.

I should also give my friends, family, and other assorted readers the benefit of the doubt. They are all intelligent people, and to worry that they cannot handle a closer look into my psyche is to do them discredit. If they like me, it should be because the like me, the person at the core, not because of whatever mask I put on in front of them. If that is not the case, then perhaps the friendship should be reassessed.

That is not to say that masks are not useful; I’m not going to suddenly open up my deepest, darkest secrets and desires to my manager at work. But they are tools, nothing more. They do not need to become who I truly am. And worrying about offending or estranging would be like, well, putting the cart before the horse.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: I am writing for myself. I need to write about things that are important to me, in ways that are important to me. This may reveal opinions that have been hidden by masks in the past, but I think it’s important for me to try. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment, send me a private email, or find me in person. This will often be a stretch for me, and may not be easy, but let’s see how it goes.

EDIT: Sorry about the doubling.  I write these posts in a word processor (just in case) and then copy/paste them into the online editor.  Apparently I got trigger-happy.  Feel free to go about your typical, oh-so-enjoyable Monday routine now.

2 thoughts on “The Masks We Wear

  1. Kyra

    You’ve got this one copied twice, dude.

    I find the masks we wear fascinating. Not so much for what the mask it, but more for why we feel the need. Fitting in is so very important to us. I find myself sometimes fearing what would happen if I dropped certain filters, and other times hitting the inner walls of a mask, wishing desperately that someone were curious enough to come poke around so that I could peel up a corner and blame them for looking.

    Amusingly, I’ve come right out and told people pieces of what lies behind the filter, and I’ve generally gotten some variation of “I don’t believe you,” in response. It’s hilarious – our masks can be more real than we are.

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