I’ve been thinking a lot about roles lately. How we interchange between them in order to get things done. We change personas at least twice a day while struggling to remain us. Colleague, friend, parent, sibling, partner, lover, acquaintance, stranger; yes, even as a stranger you change and transform. You have to go by the unspoken, unwritten protocol of politeness, decency, and boundaries. We always have a role to play, but the mask in question only needs to be worn in the presence of someone else.
What happens when we are alone? Alone and aware. Are we ourselves? Or do we play the ‘I’ role? In essence, my question is, is there an us? Or are we a series of masks we have created ourselves?
Don’t misunderstand me, a percentage of this mask is always made of us, and the number varies according to each person’s personality, self-confidence, self-reliance, resilience, and so on. But the rest… the rest is weaved with social convention, rules, and expectations. The stitches are made slowly, so you don’t feel the needle going in. The technique is so eloquent in the verbalization of its interaction with your soul that you appear seamless, uncut, and whole.
But you aren’t, are you? You are exhausted, fragile, fragmented, almost invisible. The cracks in your skin are seen only by you, provided you even look at yourself. What then? Do you even try to heal? Fill them with pieces of you so you don’t disappear? You can start now, it is never too late. But let’s assume that you’ve identified that. You’ve worked out a way to get past it, live with it, learn from it, even use it to your advantage.
You return home; walk through the door, close it behind you, place your keys on the table in front of the mirror, and look. Do you see the mask? And if you do, do you take it off?
Please, take it off.
Tell me what you see. How much of you is left? Do you recognize yourself? You need to look at the eyes. Ignore everything else. Don’t blink.
Are you still in there?