Community · Encouragement · Hope

Moment of Truth Monday

Wearing a disguise, pretending to be someone/something else, and escaping my everyday routine was my favorite part of Halloween as a child. The smell of those plastic costumes was second only to the smell of a new iron-on t-shirt from Peggy’s Top Shop. Along with my sisters, we collected candy in pillowcases, stayed out begging at doors until the load was too heavy to carry, used flashlights to illuminate our journey, and took obscene amounts of candy to school the next day.

If you had the pleasure of wearing one of the fine costumes from the 70’s and 80’s, which came packaged in a box, you likely remember the humidity that built up on the inside of the mask as you breathed. This required you to shift the mask from covering your face to resting on top of your head-revealing your true self-while catching your breath.

After a while, I outgrew the boxed costumes. This is where I probably should have transitioned from collecting to distributing candy. I did not take the clue. Instead, I redoubled my effort and began piecing together homemade costumes. This should be understood as raiding the closets of each family member to be: a nerd, punk rocker, hobo, ghost {sorry about all those sheets with holes, mom}, clown, or Madonna.

Goodness, just reading the list makes me giggle. I had zero imagination or creativity, and this is underscored by the number of times I was a hobo—which seems terribly inappropriate looking back. All I can really say is the candy motivated me, and I wasn’t considering any social statement I was making.

The idea of going in disguise began appealing to me beyond the boundaries of Halloween. While I enjoyed wearing the plastic masks, I discovered I could wear a mask without anyone noticing. You might be familiar with this concept…smiling when you’re secretly blue, cracking jokes to cover up fear, or using achievement to hide deep insecurity. Covering up my true self felt protective in the moment.

I believed some basic lies as I began disguising my authentic self. I was confident that people wouldn’t understand what I was struggling with, that others wouldn’t like the “real” me, and I was fatally flawed. The perception I had of myself was that I was a fluke, a fake, and being exposed was inevitable. There is no peace to be had within the vortex of such thinking.

Day after day, sometimes without thinking, I put on the disguise of the Alyssa I thought others liked. The one that made others laugh, spoke candidly, and loved a good party. Oddly enough, that version of me was scared, exhausted, and incredibly lonely.

It’s almost instinctive to wear masks. Being vulnerable is risky, and people can be so dang mean. It’s our nature to self-preserve and look out for ourselves. These innate tactics keep us lonely and longing. They keep us isolated and on the fringe of authentic relationships.

We were made to share our lives with others in community. The authentic version of ourselves was made to enrich the lives of those closest to us. I understand that some people are uncomfortable with authenticity and vulnerability, but that shouldn’t keep us from trying.

If you are like me and inclined to disguise yourself in a way you think others expect, I invite you to drop the act. Let today be the day you remove the mask and walk out of disguise. You will feel a level of fear, but it will pale in comparison to the freedom of traveling light.

Be you today. After all, no one does that better than you!

 

#MomentofTruthMonday #DroptheDisguise #NoMoreMasks #BeYou

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