I've been thinking about this blog post for sometime and to be completely honest, I started to feel quite anxious. You see the truth is that I am yet to find my 'blogging voice'. For those of you who are seasoned bloggers, you may well be wondering why on earth I'm finding it so difficult to embrace this powerful learning tool. The answer is simple...fear, fear of getting 'it wrong', fear of getting 'me wrong'.
If you meet me in person, you'll soon realise that I talk a lot and have plenty to say, often using humour and gestures to communicate my thoughts. I genuinely love being around people and I'm very comfortable putting myself out there. Perhaps this is my mask, though? For as soon as you put me in front of a blog, an opportunity to really show my authentic self, I become paralyzed with the fear.
So in sharing this with you, I'm removing my mask because you see, I believe that we are all capable of wearing one, both women and men. We are all capable of wearing one not for deception but to mask our vulnerability or to help us 'fit in' with the image that we feel others want from us. I could have written this blog and none of you would have known the discomfort it caused me and so in sharing it, I'm embracing the uncomfortableness that I felt; not hiding from it but instead trying to learn from it.
The Japanese say we all have three faces - which helps to explain where the notion of masks comes from.
In Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott talks a lot about showing others who your are within the conversations that we have- come out from behind the mask and make it real. This fits in with the third face - our true authentic self. Susan isn't only talking to women here, she's talking to men as well. However, women are often the ones who are accused of wearing a mask but I challenge this as being something that all human beings do, especially if there is an element of risk and being vulnerable. People wear masks in all manner of situations like a date or meeting someone new. I think it is more about being ok with who you are and understanding that with or without a mask - others will judge you. But that is ok. Uncomfortable but ok.
This notion of only women wearing masks is often down to the fact that we feel we have to battle so hard for our voices to be heard. We want to 'fit in'. Rarely are men ever subjected to so much scrutiny and judgement. If any masks get worn then it might be because women are made to feel as though they have to wear a mask to 'dumb down' their true selves but none of us should ever dim our light for anyone.
As women, we can often play down our light and one technique is to wear a mask. What if the REAL me isn't enough? Not smart enough, not witty enough. The mask is a form of protection and as humans, both women and men, it is a natural instinct to protect ourselves. The true issue here is the complex nature of identity for women because they have such a long history of being made to fit in to 'a role' and a status of what another wants (usually men) but sometimes other women.
However, I don't dismiss that men are equally as a capable of feeling the need to wear a mask. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not men feel that it is acceptable to show their emotions and who they really are for fear of not being seen as 'manly'.
For me personally, the major point with regards to wearing a mask is whether or not you are ok with looking in the mirror without the mask. Your true self in all of its beauty. The third face - your truest reflection. This is important because that's the authenticity and integrity part. Not what others think.