We find out early that telling the whole truth makes people uncomfortable and is certainly not ladylike or likely to make us popular, so we learn to lie sweetly so that we can be loved. And when we figure out this system, we are split in tow: the public self, who says that right things in order to belong and the secret self, who thinks other things.
Years ago I sat in the living room of a woman’s house attending a Ladies Bible Study and the teacher started talking about masks. How we learn early to wear masks and to have a variety of faces that we show the world. I remember being stunned that someone finally said it to church ladies. And I remember being disheartened that she didn’t say “And now we will discuss how to stop wearing them.”
I also remember driving home from that Bible study with the top off my bright red Jeep, radio thumping, and my hair blowing crazy in the wind and thinking “THIS is who I am. I wear bright colors. I have big hair. I sometimes talk too loud and I have strong opinions that I won’t bend on just because someone doesn’t like them. And my days of playing small at work, at home, and at church are O. V. E. R.”
OVER might have been a little too bold. But I slowly started peeling away the layers. The masks.
I try…sometimes in vain…to be genuine, real, sincere and to avoid people and situations who make me feel the need to be fake. I still feel a mask creeping by over my face when I am in a new dating relationship. I feel it start if I step inside a church. I tend to wear a different disguise when I’m with my family. And my instinct when wounded is an entirely different face altogether.
I am kinder to myself with each passing year. And with kindness comes a desire to be seen for who I am. My real self.
Ladylike? Maybe not.
Easy to love? Hmmm…not always.
Honest? Yes please.