What do you see when you look in the mirror?
– The successful businessperson?
– The budding artist?
– The conservative clergyman?
– The enlightened guru?
– The strong-silent type?
– The lone wolf?
– The Social Justice Warrior?
– The fashionista?
– The wise cracking asshole?
These and many more labels are common amongst the overwhelming populace and can exist simultaneously and at different times and points within each of our lives.
But what if I were to propose that these were merely our masks? The façade by which we present for survival, or approval from others?
For most of my adult life I believed I was someone, only to release that I wasn’t, only to cling to another identity, only to realise that I was not this either, and so on…
Because life is about relationships with others, we often convince ourselves, relative to others of our identity. The identity to subscribe to ourselves is based on what we could potentially be rather then us just being.
But what about the price we pay to keep the masquerade going?
From personal experience the longer that I kept on the mask, the greater the applaud and inclusion of others…others who did not love me for who I truly was but what I had shown them; the best and the brightest of attributes, favourable to the religious group or institution.
And yet, I was rotting on the inside, keeping up a façade in a truly miserable set of circumstances, believing in a set of beliefs out of alignment with my true self, repressing my own needs and truth, working towards goals that were not truly natural to me, and keeping up appearances to meet the needs and expectations of others.
It took me 4 years to force myself to start from scratch, much to the disappointment and hurt of others. To come to a place where I had to admit that no amount of sacred blood, mantras, holy scriptures, public confessions, prayer, fasting or meditative states would on their own, and independent of my own free feelings and thought help me find my own way, and I’m still learning.
Yes, there is pain but the short-term hardship you may experience is a necessary component of self-evolution, and is far easier to confront than the pain of burying yourself to conform for others.
The truth is that we latch onto these masks because we see them as a way by which we can become who we think we should be, rather than that which we already are – an illusion as it were.
Most of us think that it is inappropriate to be what we truly want to be based on external standards; be that your family, your ‘friends’, partner, your social class, your religion and so on.
For example, a person who does not wish to have a family may fear ridicule from family members; or a person who has grown up in a strongly religious environment but is agnostic in their beliefs and may fear ridicule from their community. Or even the individual who desires to experience a monastic lifestyle, as opposed to an aesthetic and materialistic lifestyle that is considered mainstream.
The truth is that no one else can be responsible for your own happiness but yourself. The longer you choose not to take responsibility, the longer you will not be able to live your truth.
You may fear the consequences of being shunned by those around you – but this then begs that question of whether those around you truly care or love you, or are in love with what they want you to be, or within the lens of the world that they perceive.
Those who still want a relationship with you be it romantically, platonically or otherwise are your true friends, spiritual tribe and community; and those who don’t will give you the opportunity to find those whom you truly vibrate with despite your differences of lifestyle and opinion, and will always desire the best for you, regardless of time and space.
And YOU will be free to pick, choose, accept and discard those attributes, beliefs and behaviours that are in tune with yourself without judgement; and decide for yourself not only who you are, but also who you are becoming – with the support of those who truly love you.