“All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the mask may be, with a little attention we may always succeed in distinguishing it from the true face.” —The Three Musketeers

Stepping out into society, we become the precise people we want the world to see. We all disguise our true selves with masks of our own making. Yet, the real person hides at the edges — in the eyes, through a small look or smile. We are all still there.

Sometime between childhood and adulthood, many of us lose the ability to be the people we were meant to be. Perhaps we are scared society won’t accept us, or maybe we are not ready to accept ourselves. And so we are molded and masked into something else, or someone else.

Through time, the mask pulls away at the edges, cracks just a bit, and our real selves start to show through. Maybe it is a best friend or a family member, a romantic partner or a pet who sees the real you better than anyone. And in their act of loving beyond the falsities, the pretenses, the fear, etc., they help diminish our masked selves. We become real.

I wonder if this generation of filters, of feelings which must be boiled down to 140 characters or less, has endowed us with the need to hide ourselves. I wonder if the people of the past felt that they too had to hide their real selves from the world.

All of us are soft: skin and tissue, bones that bend. We are malleable, mortal. We are human. And it seems a very human thing to shield ourselves in some way. Whether it be knights in armor or costumed men and women masquerading as different people, through the ages we’ve kept our real selves at a distance from the people we present to society.

It is easy to look out at a field of faces and think that we know the truth behind a scar or a small twist of hair around a finger, laughing and looking happy. Yet, often these, too, are falsehoods that only keep up the masks of the happy people we want the world to see. But much of our world has become dark, and we juxtapose the shadows with Snapchat smiles and endless emojis, trying to tell the stories of our lives so we don’t have to be honest — with ourselves and with the world.

If you stop at the door and check your face in the mirror to ensure that you look okay, that you are okay, then perhaps, you, too, are hiding. Until the mask is made insignificant, unnecessary, it will control the way you interact with others. Maybe you will avoid the rain to keep from melting in its honesty — the way it cleanses the world, makes it new again.

Maybe you need to be born anew to appreciate your inner self, which the world deserves to know. The imperfections you conceal beneath LOLs and JKs will only wilt without the room to become loved. Until we unmask ourselves, we will only be partial people. And though the world would never show it, it wants us to be whole, to forgo our brokenness in exchange for the chance to heal old wounds. Only then can we show our true faces: unapologetic, unmasked, honest, and real.


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