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Wearing Masks Can Get Tiring

On my walk this morning, I ran into someone who recognized me from my church. It got me thinking about the different faces we wear in the various places we go in life. We’re a different person in our favorite bar or restaurant than we are when we’re around our families. We forget about our everyday responsibilities on a regular basis with our wife or children, but we are Señor or Señorita Reliable at work.

And then there’s church. But before anybody mentions it, let's not even get into the whole God sees everything aspect. Let's keep things here on Earth.

The off color language and jokes can flow like water around our buddies, but not even so much as a “gosh darn it” emerges from our lips in God's house. We’re different people when on Sunday. Many of us wear our “church faces” just like we wear Sunday clothes. They go on Sunday morning and come off as soon as we get home. And the worst part is that we’re aware that we’re doing it. And much of the time, it's fear that drives us. We're afraid of what people might think of us if they see who we really are. They might not like us any more if they know what we're really like so we put on our mask to hide what we don't want them to see.

Yes, it’s sometimes necessary to show different aspects of who we are depending on where we are. But when we do it to hide parts of our personality, it can do harm. We can’t wear different masks in the assorted places we go thinking that we’re safe being “that person” in “that place.” Don’t forget that even though we don’t see them, the people we see at church and work also go to those restaurants and bars as well. When they see us acting like a totally different person, that holy church act goes right up in smoke.

Let’s face it, it's a lot of work keeping track of all those different masks for different situations and let’s not even go into the paranoia they bring. Simplification seems to be the order for the day.

I’ve found that the most authentic and likeable people I know have only two faces: the 100% truthful face they wear at home that can be open due to the bubble of trust, discretion, and safety shared by loved ones and a slightly abridged version of the same for work and outside which uses discretion in presenting personal opinions, but is still pretty much identical. Since they don’t have to take up brain function worrying about what veneer they are presenting, they can devote their entire person to the circumstances at hand.

In short, it's just plain easier to just be an honest and consistent person everywhere you go.

This means starting by creating an amalgamation of all your “outside” faces into one. And if that new composite face isn’t something that can go to church without awkwardness, maybe a little adjustment might be in order. A little compromise allows you to still be who you are and allows you to no longer worry about what you think everybody else expects you to be. Sure, it can be a little embarrassing to examine yourself in this new way, but you’re only going to make yourself better for the effort.

The best result of these efforts is that people will see your genuineness and come to know you for who you really are, not perfect, not necessarily holy, but genuine. You may not be the next candidate to be pulled into the upper echelons at your church, but you definitely won’t be the person others avoid due to a bad reputation either. People around you will know that what they see is what they get and can make an honest judgment about it.

To sum it all up, there’s a one liner out there that says you should be the person your dog thinks you are. Maybe it’s funny because it’s true.

black and white image of Italian masks


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