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  • Writer's pictureLena Jennings

Emotional Masks

Who would have thought that in 2020 we would be wearing masks literally everywhere we go. I do the dance almost everyday of I leave my house or my car and run back just because I forgot to bring a mask. Maskne has become a thing where I get breakouts on my face from wearing a mask all day. I'm shopping in stores and I get hot and can't even breathe so shopping isn't as enjoyable. But I still wear a mask everywhere I go because I'm choosing to stop the spread of COVID-19. 34 states and the District of Columbia now mandate some form of a face-covering in public. Face-coverings prevent the spread of droplets by keeping them contained within your mask.

Then there are the emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because of fear. For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind the mask of being a bully. If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind a mask of anger. We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford; we pretend things are fine at work when our jobs are on the line; we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance. Wearing masks isn't a new thing in America, it's now just visible.

It's the fear of being found out that we, ourselves, are not good enough. It's the fear that our authentic self won't be accepted by others. So we puff ourselves up, rely on pride to make us seem better than we are, and adjust what we say/do to fit the ever changing standards of the world. Sometimes it's easier to just put on a mask to fit right in, it feels better. It feels better in the moment to just go along with what others are saying because you're accepted and connected. But after a while you find out that you are accepting and connecting with the wrong type of people.

We end up putting on these masks and look foolish because we're pretending to be someone and something we're not. It begins to be incongruent with who we are and it begins to show. It becomes painfully obvious that we are wearing a mask but for many it's become apart of who we are. We originally put on the masks to cope with rejection, trauma, and past hurts that they turned into our coping strategies. Then that coping strategy became so ingrained into our day to day that it became our identity.

So let's strip ourselves from the masks and dare greatly enough to take them off. Masks prevent us from having the very thing we want - to be known and loved by others. It's not about being known and loved by everyone but known and loved by the people who matter. It's scary to let down the walls but it's amazing what you find on the inside: people who love you for you - flaws, quirks, and all. So just because we've been mandated to wear physical masks doesn’t mean we have to wear emotional ones too.

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