When I was a young child, I would get excited about Halloween, choosing a costume and looking forward to dressing up to trick or treat. I have no memory of this nor do I remember getting sick every year right before the festivities and miss out, according to my mom.
At some point, I got over this and have a few years of fun. I lived in a small town very close to the downtown area where the homes were close together and filled with generous treat-givers.
For as long as can remember, I never really cared for the dressing up part. It was stressful to pick something to go as, to find the supplies needed and pull it all together. And I really didn’t care for those around me being dressed up. I hated not knowing who was behind the mask. I don’t like surprises period but it was much worse on Halloween. And I don’t like being scared so scary costumes were especially challenging.
The most important piece in all of this for me is how much I hated the masks…how much I hated the secrecy around who people actually were. One year, I even pulled someone’s mask off of them right before the haunted house at our church. It ended badly with me be really embarrassed, the other person being really upset that I’d revealed who he was, and those around us shaming me for doing what I did. It was a reaction to being really uncomfortable and I didn’t even realize what I was doing until it was too late. I don’t know where this fear came from but I do know I still hate masks…real or metaphorical…both make me very uncomfortable.
We all wear masks at various times and for a variety reasons. The biggest reason is, outside of Halloween, taking them off means being vulnerable…being willing to share who we really are…all of who we are. I’ve been working for a long time to remove mine and it hasn’t been easy.
As we approach the Halloween holiday this year, it’s a great opportunity to explore the masks we wear. Here are a few questions to help get you started in the process:
- When do you find yourself wearing a mask?
- What is it that makes you feel you need a mask in those situations, environments or experiences?
- Is this something you’d like to shift in your life?
- What would your life look like without these masks?
- What would it take to make a positive shift?
- What are you willing to do today to make that happen?