I’m Not the Person Behind the Mask

I value a connection with other people. This COVID-19 crisis sucks. The masks we wear are another layer to our hidden identities. I’m a father; I’m a worker; now I’m a social distancer. Personas are for stripping away, not for piling on top. As if social media wasn’t already creating social distancing, now we have Plexiglas and tape on the floor, telling us to stand further apart. I don’t know you, and now I see you as a mannequin with a mask.

I need a connection with other people. Before the lockup, my Meetup app was popping with dings and alerts. Go here. Go there. I was meeting new and fascinating people in a variety of realms. Now there’s Zoom, but I’m missing something. My aura isn’t interacting with their aura. Our fields of energy aren’t crisscrossing in the atmosphere. We are flickers of light on a screen that is eroding our eyeballs. 

The mask as a metaphor

When we have someone we trust, we can take off our mask. We can peel the sweaty plastic off our skin and embrace the natural touch of another being. Where there is no trust, no knowledge, we dawn our masks. If we choose not to wear our coverings, we risk having another human infect our air, our essence. We can’t see this risk. We intuit. 

Shame is a mask we wear. The disease we are trying to prevent is fear. We hide behind the shame because we don’t want other people to catch onto what conditions we have: being human. Some of us are asymptomatic with our neuroses and our inner thoughts. (If only people knew what I was thinking.) Some of us are full of outward symptoms: shyness, anger, annoyance. We’re afraid our demons will become known. 

My demons are like your demons, just different colors. They act similarly in the pain or suffering they cause. They are kin. And here is the kicker: the more masks we wear, the stronger are demons become. 

Masks make my glasses fog up

Ordinary breathing through a mask causes eyesight to diminish. My glasses fog up. Now, it is more difficult to see you. Isn’t it funny that something I wear causes you to look distorted? Our metaphor continues. The thing I choose to cover my identity causes other people to look different. 

Soak this in: by not living authentically, I cannot truly see other people in their true selves. The more I associate with layers of identity, the more obscure other people become. If I’m open and vulnerable, other people are open and vulnerable with me. 

What we do in the stores

Every time I walk into a store, another layer goes up, separating me from people. One week it was facial masks; the next week it was tape on the floor. The following week it was Plexiglas and police officers guarding the doors. 

The more we social distance, the closer we need to become with ourselves. In this time of separation from our fellow human beings, we are in desperate need to connect with someone. Now is the perfect time to connect with ourselves. It is time to take off our proverbial masks, look at our trueness in the reflection of our inspection, and see the barriers we have against self-care.

I dare you to love yourself. I dare you to trust yourself. Sit down in the quiet and listen to your thoughts. And then, tell yourself that you are okay. The ideas you have are human, and they are okay. Your thoughts do not define you. What you create defines you. Love yourself and create something beautiful.

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