It’s October, which means that Halloween is rapidly approaching. The stores are filled with all manner of costumes and masks for us to dress up in and be someone different, if only for one night. Seeing all the masks on display at a store recently made me think about the masks that we wear in our daily lives, and how wearing those different masks help us truly express who we are.
I’m not necessarily talking about wearing physical masks here, although wearing a physical mask that hides your true identity gives you a freedom that otherwise you might feel comfortable expressing, especially in my case. I’ll talk about physical masks for a moment and then delve into those masks that we all wear, yet no one can actually see.
I love Halloween parties because I get to wear a mask. Most of the time I’m at a party where I know most of the people attending so I’m not totally free to be a different person, but I do feel unburdened somewhat when I’m hiding my features behind a mask. But I have been to some parties in the last year where my wife and I have each worn masks that allow us to explore and be different people. When we are behind those masks we are free to fully express the sexual feelings that are lurking within us. We have been to two sexy parties and felt comfortable enough behind our masks and from the fact that we didn’t know anyone at the party to explore ourselves. My wife has admitted to being a bit of an exhibitionist, but doesn’t want anyone to ever know about that in our daily life. With her job and mine it would put us in a delicate situation if anyone found out. So when we’ve been traveling I’ve researched swingers’ clubs and such and we felt comfortable enough at two places to try them out. Even though we were hundreds of miles from home we still weren’t comfortable and chose to wear masquerade masks as well. We both felt comfortable at this point and had a fantastic time. Being watched by people who were total strangers was an incredible turn-on and something we’d like to explore again, but not without our masks.
Physical masks are great for those types of things and for cutting loose and having a good time at the Halloween party, but we all wear other types of masks as well. I’m talking about those invisible masks we all wear, whether it is for work, or friends or family and how they help to protect us. While some would think it hides who we really are from other people I think it allows us to be who we truly are, just framed in different ways based on the situations we are in. I have different “masks” that I wear based on who I am interacting with. When I’m with my family I am a little different than when I am at work, with friends, or alone with my wife.
I’m not meaning that I’m a totally different person when I’m with different people, but we all have to censor or guard ourselves based on the different situations that we find ourselves in. When I’m at work I have to be the boss, and not necessarily the person that everyone can joke around with in the break room. There are certainly times when I’d like to be the person who isn’t making huge decisions and just cut loose and complain about the comp time policy, but if I did that my employees would look at me differently and react differently to certain things at times. I still like to be friendly and talk with everyone and see how they are doing and make some personal connection, but not as much as I might want in just a normal social setting. This is still who I am, the one making decisions and looking out for the greater good of everyone in my division, but I have to frame it differently because of who I’m interacting with.
With my family I’m someone entirely different than what I am at work. I’m the one that’s taking care of everyone, the one that tries to solve all of the problems and getting involved in those deeply personal things that I have to avoid at work. With friends I’m the guy that is always there for advice, or just that person who’ll go have a beer and listen to the problems that you might have. With each group I’m a little different than with the others, but I’m still myself although it’s framed a little differently by the “mask” that I am wearing in that situation. I have to be different in each situation, but the person that I am around all of these people is still me. I just frame it in a different way depending on the situation that I am in.
I know that everyone goes through the same thing in their daily life. They’re a different person around their kids than they are when they are around their best friends. It’s a natural part of the human psyche and through the years it’s been framed that this is a bad thing. We hear that we need to be ourselves no matter what and the people around us just need to adapt to that. But I’m thinking it’s a little different than that. I think wearing these masks allows us to be ourselves, but also shield ourselves as we need to. All of these different facets of our personality combine to form the person that we really are. We need to wear these masks in order to truly be ourselves. People often see masks as bad things, but I think they’re a useful to for expressing who we really are, just in a different way than many would expect.