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Isn't it pretty?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Our Masks

I'm currently reading the book "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Piccoult (I think SaraK is a fan). I haven't gotten very far yet, but the basic premise is a high school student who opens fire on his classmates at school one day, killing ten. What I have found interesting so far is the discussion of hiding who we are in the book.

Several of the students in the book discuss how they feel no one sees the real them, who they really are. Scraps echoes this thought in her most recent post and I know I have certainly felt the same way many times. I feel as if I play a part, sometimes multiple roles in life, depending on my surroundings. All these parts and roles are actually an element of who I am, and to be honest, I think in some ways, as I have gotten older, I have gotten better at showing my true, whole self to people, but often I do hide.

I hide in certain situations in order to not cause a fuss, to not stir up trouble, to pick my fights carefully. I refrain from speaking up if I don't agree because I know that the person I am talking to won't be able or willing to see things from my perspective anyway, so I just hide and keep quiet.

Other times I hide because I'm not proud of parts of who I am, and I'm afraid if people see those parts they will judge me. It's easy to say out loud that I don't care about what other people think, but to really, really actualize that is much harder. If I really didn't care, it wouldn't hurt when people turned their back or told me they disapprove. But it does. I do care.

I wonder if we ever really take our masks off fully. If there really is one integrated person inside that doesn't change somewhat depending on the setting one is in. That doesn't use his or her chameleon colors at times to blend.

I wonder if some bloggers, mainly those who are anonymous, use their blogging to shed their masks, to reveal all their true colors, to feel really themselves. Though while doing so, they are using the mantle of the anonymity of the Internet as another mask. I do to an extent, but I still keep my mask on often when I blog, mainly because I know who reads it.

Can we ever really unmask ourselves?


  • I think some of those times you hide are good and normal - there are times where speaking up would be pointless, where it will just make things miserable. You need to find that right balance. But being scared and hiding is too far the other way - that's a misplaced lack of confidence in one's self, and that confidence needs to be built up.

    My cousins in Israel used to say that I wore the kippa I do because it looks Charedi from far away, but as you get closer, it's more Tzioni. They were half-joking, but their point was that I was always playing that chameleon game. To some extent, maybe they were right back then... but that's not really the case now. It's more like I actually am those things.

    For me, it took years of ingraining into myself the line at the top of my blog, it different fashions. You've often doubted whether that's the case... but you really won't know until you see for yourself.

    By Blogger Ezzie, at 7/17/07, 11:36 AM  

  • >Can we ever really unmask ourselves?

    Start another blog where you don't reveal any personal info at all and don't let your friends know it is you. Then you'll be totally anonymous...

    Now you've piqued my interest - what lies under the mask!

    By Blogger e-kvetcher, at 7/17/07, 1:01 PM  

  • The people you think would best accept you for who you are often don't and that hurts the most. When other people surprise you with reassurance and validation, you can feel truly yourself.

    I was amazed how accepting my family was when I unmasked my self to them. At the same time, my wife was totally not understanding (indirectly divorce followed) but my most recent girlfriend was.

    By Blogger smoo, at 7/17/07, 1:16 PM  

  • First of all, thanks for the link! It's nice to know when my words make an impression on someone.

    We all go through life with these masks on, convinced that we need them or else the world will see--and reject--the real self. But sometimes the masks become such an ingrained part of the self that they become indistiguishable from who we really are, and then it's hard to find our way back. And of course, the younger this happens, the harder it is to dig down under the layers of who we pretend to be.

    By Blogger Scraps, at 7/17/07, 1:37 PM  

  • Yes, I am a Jodi Picoult fan :) Did not read her latest yet, though. I don't think "hiding" a part of oneself is always a bad thing; it depends on the situation. I don't believe I have to disclose everything about myself to someone I have just met or someone who will judge me. If there is no real reason to lay all my cards on the table, I won't. I am a pretty private person, so it takes a lot of trust for me to bare my soul.

    By Blogger SaraK, at 7/17/07, 3:43 PM  

  • Hiding aside, I don't think people have one single integrated self in general. I think all those faces ARE our evolved selves.

    By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 7/17/07, 4:00 PM  

  • I once saw a quote by ?I FORGET? who said that we delude ourselves by thinking that we are one unified personality but there is a multiplicity of personalities that manifest under different circumstances (at least that's what my other personality told me).

    By Blogger smoo, at 7/17/07, 4:32 PM  

  • I think people who post annonymously and who chat without telling their true names are foolish, shallow people who are out of touch with their true selves.

    By Anonymous Joe the lawyer, at 7/17/07, 8:55 PM  

  • this post reminds me of billy joel's song, "the stranger."

    i like that someone wrote about a "multiplicity of personalities." that makes sense to me.

    i think that complete vulnerability is possible - with a spouse, therapist, best friend, maybe even a stranger.

    By Blogger Maven, at 7/18/07, 12:57 AM  

  • I was thinking of "The Stranger" too.

    We all have different facets. We'd be very boring if we didn't. And it would be inappropriate to show everyone everything all the time. You have to discriminate and be appropriate.

    I don't talk politics with my Arab co-workers. It's pointless (and probably dangerous).

    By Blogger PsychoToddler, at 7/18/07, 1:54 PM  

  • Ezzie -
    I don't necessarily think that wearing a "mask" such as I discussed is being scared - it's more of a way to deflect negative energy that isn't necessary.

    e-kvetcher -
    That would do it, but then I feel as if I would be hiding even more.

    smoo -
    I think you're right. Often, I think we are pleasantly surprised by those whom we assumed would have judged or had a negative reaction. Unfortunately, this can also work in the opposite direction.

    Scraps -
    Maybe the masks actually do become who we are?

    SaraK -
    I wonder how we can know when the right time is to bare our soul, how we know when it's okay to trust.

    Irina -
    I agree, I think we have different faces for different situations.

    Smoo (again)-
    I like the word multiplicity. Just as we have different roles in our lives - daughter, employee, student - we do have different personalities as well (and hopefully it's treatable;)

    Joe -
    You may have something there ;)

    Maven -
    I think that complete vulnerability needs the right environment to be safe and healthy - I'm not sure that with a complete stranger it is even advisable.

    PsychoToddler -
    I don't talk politics with my Arab classmates either. That way, we get along.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 7/18/07, 2:28 PM  

  • I wonder if some bloggers, mainly those who are anonymous, use their blogging to shed their masks, to reveal all their true colors,

    That is a good description of much of my writing.

    By Blogger Jack's Shack, at 7/19/07, 4:32 PM  

  • Very thought provoking...
    I think that as more people who know me in real life start reading my blog, I've held back a little bit more, but not much.
    I started my blog to be as honest as possible with who I am, and my own growth, and I try not to let anything hinder that...

    By Blogger jewmaican20, at 7/19/07, 6:27 PM  

  • Oh yeah, and the book is really good, by the way...

    By Blogger jewmaican20, at 7/19/07, 6:28 PM  

  • Jack -
    Glad you could relate.

    Jewmaican -
    Your poetry and posts are extremely honest and thoughtful.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 7/20/07, 6:38 AM  

  • Hello! I'm a newcomer to your blog and I really, really enjoyed this post. I think it speaks such truth. We all have our various masks and we keep changing them based on where we are and who we're with so that we'll be viewed a certain way. It's frightening to take off the masks completely and let people in to who you really, truly are. I'm a pretty guarded person in that respect and I know it's something I have to work on. Some guarding is okay, but sometimes we really do have to relax and just be ourselves. And I always find, people like you much better for it, in the end. (And when I say 'you' I mean the generic 'you.' Not, you know, you). =D

    By Blogger Erachet, at 7/31/07, 4:36 PM  

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