Unmasking

So as many of my posts have indicated, I’m doing some soul-searching at the moment. I was reminded of several conversations recently because of another one. I had a conversation with somebody recently with whom I’m developing a really good friendship. During this conversation, the person said something to the effect of, “I’m really glad I’m getting to know the deeper side of you. There was always something about you in groups that was fake.” The person went on to say that between interacting with me in groups and reading my blog, s/he wished s/he could get to know the person that wrote this blog, despite knowing the person who I am in public. I must admit that being called fake hurt (ow…my pride), but I knew what the person meant, and s/he wasn’t wrong.

I’ve often thought and possibly even spoken to some of you about the fact that I wear a series of masks depending on what situation I’m in and what is expected of me. I’m a people pleaser, and I like to be what people need me to be, so I’ll often swallow myself and let myself become what I need to. I do this for more reasons than this, though. I do it to protect myself. It’s easier to be a bit of a caricature of ones self than to be your true self. Being your true self is to be vulnerable and, quite frankly, a bit terrifying. If someone rejects the caricature, you can always say to yourself, “Eh, no big loss.” If someone rejects your true self, you’re pretty much screwed. Another friend of mine once told me I build walls for protection, but that ultimately, they just leave me feeling lonely, and s/he was right, too.

Further, the mask protects the other person. An ex of mine once likened me to the lion in Madagascar. No, not because I’m as annoying as Ben Stiller, but rather because of a scene once they’ve been stranded on whatever island it’s supposed to have been and the meat supply has dried up, so the lion starts to look at all the other animals and see steaks. As a result, he leaves and builds an enclosure much like the one he lived in in NY, complete with spikes facing inward to prevent him from jumping the walls and hurting anyone. My ex said that I often do that – shut down and leave just to protect people. I guess she was right. I had never thought of that, but I suppose it’s a furtherance of the whole protecting other people from the potential monstrosity that is me.

No, I don’t mean that I’m actually a monstrosity, but I do acknowledge that there are some flaws in me that can become dangerous to other people, including my ability and sometimes over-willingness to cut with words. I’ve learned to control that for the most part, but I still tend to extricate myself with little to no warning if I feel like I’m going to say or do something that will harm someone else.

I guess writing these posts is a bit of a way that I try to take those masks off from time to time. I have a couple friends, not many, that know me without the masks. It’s something I should be more often, but I find it hard to be comfortable in my own skin. Deflection through different personalities is how I deal with that. So, if you catch me doing it (if you can tell), call me on it. I’ll try to be better about it, but it’s an ingrained behavior.

Hope you’re well, dear reader.

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2 Responses to “Unmasking”

  1. matthewfmurphy Says:

    Nice use of NHS gender neutrality formatting. Also, Masks are totally not punk rock. Shed it.

  2. justamusician Says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks. I try to protect the individuals I mention without clearing it with them first, so, though they may read the post and know exactly what I’m talking about, others don’t. It’s weird, maybe, but it’s a thing. NHS was the second place I learned to use gender neutral formatting. I had to use it in some of my philosophy classes, too (most notedly my thesis).

    Yeah, masks aren’t really punk rock. It’s just so easy to do at this point. I spent a lot of my time directing a bit of social anxiety into the masks to avoid judgment and mockery (I was that kid in middle school, which is a lame-ass excuse, but it taught me how to go unnoticed by not being me). I’m workin’ on it, so that’s a start, right?

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