Removing The Mask
"The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion" ~ Paulo Coelho
Removing The Mask
By Desiree Adaway / medium.com
Nov 2, 2015

When I was young, I had a horrible time sharing myself with the world.

I was awkward, nervous, hormonal, uncertain.

I felt different and I had no idea how to articulate my quirkiness, nor any idea how to celebrate it.

So I did what every other teenage girl in the history of the world has done.

I hid.

I hid myself because life was hard and hiding was easier.

I put on the mask.

You know the mask. The one that tells the world that you are perfect and nice. The one that says don’t rock the boat or raise your hand and get noticed. Don’t let your light shine too brightly and don’t laugh too loudly or too much. Don’t be fearless and don’t cry. Don’t continue to be a square peg while everyone else is a round hole.

I promised I would just wear the mask for school in order to help me fit in. Then, I would only wear it at certain family functions. I would most definitely wear it to church, so as not to make the pastor angry. And I soon decided I should put it on when I talked to boys, because no one wants to see the real me, right?

The real me is a mess of emotions and pain. Unloveable. And if I wanted to be loved, I believed I needed to be perfect.

The mask I believed was my salvation, was actually a prison of my own making. I had worn this mask for so long, I had no idea who I really was.

The masked face I had always worn to impress others had only diminished the real me. My true self had lived in the shadows for so long, could I ever grow and bloom? Was I even loveable?

At first, the light felt harsh. I could see all my flaws and cracks in the sunlight.

Still, I had to take off that mask.

My marriage ended when I removed the mask. Friends became angry when I removed it. Members of my family were confused and sometimes hostile.

But for the first time ever, I could see my true beauty.

A new idea began to take root, deep in the heart of me: I did not have to be perfect.

My imperfections were just as inspirational and important to my community as any outdated perception of me.

When I finally chose to remove my mask I finally heard the beat of my own heart.

And it was beautiful.

There comes a point when we all must take off the mask. Maybe not today… but someday we must.


Go to the profile of Desiree Adaway

Desiree Adaway

Leading difficult conversations on race, class + gender. Building resilient organizations at The Adaway Group. Writer. Speaker. Coach.

4.0 ·
2
Trending Today
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad3,420 views today ·
When We Judge a Person Harshly With a Label or Dismissal, We Kill the Human Being Inside of Them
Tim Hjersted3,213 views today ·
Was The Soviet Union Really a Socialist Country? Noam Chomsky Dispels This Propaganda In 1 Minute
1 min2,296 views today ·
Pentagon Study Declares American Empire Is ‘Collapsing’
Nafeez Ahmed2,053 views today ·
On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place In The Classroom
Carol Black1,909 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley987 views today ·
Joanna Macy on How to Prepare Internally for WHATEVER Comes Next
Joanna Macy895 views today ·
How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich
Adam Ziemkowski and Rebekah Liebermann833 views today ·
Liberation Theory: A Working Framework
Ricky Sherover-Marcuse735 views today ·
Load More
What's Next
The Lie We Live
8 min
What If Gun Laws Were Like Abortion Laws?
William Hamby
Fusk-åka - Rik Vs. Hemlös / Fare Evasion - Rich Vs. poor
3 min
Like us on Facebook?
Removing The Mask