Mask Off

masked man posing by car

I was watching Queen Sugar a few weeks ago. Aunt Vi was telling Nova about a conversation Nova’s parents had, many years ago, to help Nova understand her parents’ relationship.

Aunt Vi recounted that one parent said to the other, “I’m in love with the person hiding inside of you and I don’t want to hide with you.”

When I heard that line, I was jealous. Jealous that I hadn’t been able to articulate that when I needed to.

We can all put on a good show if we have to (some of us even when we don’t have to).

You smile at them folks at your job you can’t stand.

You put up with the friend-of-a-friend who always get invited to brunch.

But when you get home—whether home is a physical place or a state of being around people you trust—you take off the mask and get back to who you are.

You have opinions that might stir the pot when you share them.

You clap back when someone says something you don’t like.

You share how you really feel, maybe even unapologetically.

You send people to voicemail you know you don’t want to talk to.

You keep it 100.

Or do you?

Maybe you live with your mask on.

Maybe you have not found a place safe enough to be your whole self. If that’s your case, start by finding some new friends.

But maybe the problem is you.

Maybe, instead of being yourself, you continuously choose to play a character.

You know what happens when you live like that?

You play yaself.

You trap yourself in a persona who doesn’t have a truth.

And, if I’m being honest about what I’ve observed, you struggle to make meaningful ongoing connections with other people.

What’s the point of being someone people like if you know it isn’t you they’re vibing with?

What are you even doing with that kind of attention?

And how are you coping with the loneliness that leaves?

Look. What I’m saying right now is…bold.

I know.

And I know that some of you wonder why I even have the nerve to call all of this out.

Who do I think I am?

I think I am, and have been, a friend, relative, girlfriend, coach, and advisor to people who won’t give in to who they are.

It’s too hard.

It’s too risky.

People might not get you.

People might not like you.

But, if you’re giving people a show instead of the truth, they already don’t like you.

Because they don’t know you. And, at this rate, they never will.

Tell me though: what could be so wrong about you that it’s better for no one to know you than to have someone actually love you?

The real you.

We’ll dig more into that one next week.

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