Fake Masks by Lois Hewitt

Masks are everywhere these days but then again they always have been. I do not mean the Covid masks but the fake facades or masks we wear everyday to give an illusion of ourselves that may not be necessarily true. The ones Billy Joel sang about.

I like to think of myself as being authentic but when I look back, and cringe, over my youth I see clearly my mask. I wanted, so painfully bad, to be loved by all that I never developed the true me until much later in life. I wanted acceptance more than anything. What I was too ignorant to notice was the harder I tried to fit in, the more alienated I became.

I conformed to the people in the room. I bent and swayed with the social breezes. I never cultivated myself as my own person. I tried to emulate my father, my friends, movie stars…it mattered not who it was. Anyone was better than I was. In a previous post, I mentioned that I finally learned that I am enough. Back then, I felt very little, if any, self worth. I was damaged goods trying to act like I was a whole person.

No wonder my mental stability was questionable at times. I was on a merry-go-round that never stopped. I fooled no one but myself. How pathetic I must have been.

Fast forward to a certain age no longer dominated by the foolishness of youth. I woke up one day and did not care if I was accepted or not. I had to just be me. If someone doesn’t like it, no worries because it no longer matters.

What freedom! I finally allowed myself to just be me. I long for all the misspent youth but also have realized I was not ready then. Given the experiences of my youth and my perceptions of myself, those types of realizations would never have happened. Only with age, for me anyway, and an overwhelming exhaustion from being someone I was not could I be free. Only then could I give up the mask.

I still have moments of insecurity but now they are real or shall I say authentic. Today you see me, not some wanna be. I relish the fact that I don’t always fit in. For no one truly authentic can fit in every situation. It’s not possible. Today I feel empowered to work on me and those things that touch my soul.

When I look back at my youth, I feel sorry for that petson, a person I barely know now. Someone who tried to hard to please people who ultimately did not even matter in the scheme of things. The more cruel they were, the harder I tried to please. Always on an emotional treadmill, moving but going nowhere. My heart breaks for the sad person.

I know that those experiences made me who I am today. They filled me with empathy and wisdom. They made me stronger than I ever thought I would be. They taught me the value of true love and friendship. I am grateful for the ugly mask I wore but am so happy to have discarded it into the garbage where it belongs.

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