This particular blog is a step in my efforts to take off the mask and maybe, just possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. It’s more truly personal than anything I have ever put out there which is really going outside the box for me. Go big or go home, right?
I have spent 49 years on this planet. Trained from a young age to be what I call a ‘People Pleaser’.
I was raised in a single parent household with a lot of responsibility at a very, very young age. It was not an easy childhood but I was still expected to be the good girl, always be polite, always be helpful and always be liked. Basically, I was trained to wear a mask.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame my Mom for wanting me to be a good girl who always does the ‘right’ thing but It’s funny looking back how some of these lessons shape how you interact as an adult.
I am the peacekeeper and I avoid conflict like the plague. I will do just about anything for someone I care about but don’t know how to begin to ask for help myself. That would require inconveniencing somebody else and that is just not acceptable. I can’t even imagine making someone uncomfortable with something that I say or do, even if I should or need to say or do it.
I go above and beyond if I think it will make the people around me happy and pleased. I am everyone’s counselor but rarely discuss my problems or heartaches with anybody else. I can’t stand when someone is mad at me and I am absolutely terrified of being vulnerable and open to hurt. There has been enough of that in my life already. I am an absolute master at hiding pain and sadness behind a mask of happy-go-lucky.
This is a problem. Whether a person realizes it or not, hiding your authentic self in order to live a life that is ‘expected’ eventually catches up with you. It’s like a stick of dynamite waiting to explode. In my case, that stick of dynamite had a long fuse with a slow burn.
Over the last few years, as a result of a number of events and experiences in my life, the fuse was lit and the realization that I was not living a life that was true to the person that I really am was a big one. I was sacrificing all of me for everyone else. Not a person in my life had a clue as to the real me. My thoughts, dreams, feelings, passions – those were all buried deep inside because it was my job to take care of everybody else.
Some of these life changing events and experiences over the last few years gave me the confidence to start letting that real person out in tiny little pieces at a time. Each little piece has been incredibly difficult and the results of that courage have, and continue to be, both amazing and incredibly painful but, ultimately, worth it.
My entire life has changed as a result of this mission to ‘find myself’. While not always easy, it feels real for the first time. It’s like living life in high definition. Some of the tiniest things give me joy because I allow myself to experience them. I am learning to live life by my rules and starting to open up. I am learning that it is OK to live a life that serves me as well as others.
As I have taken each little baby step, I am discovering some of the most amazing people. Amazing people who like me for exactly who I am, not who I am expected to be. Some have even seen past the parts of the mask that still remain.
So what am I trying to say?
I am trying to say don’t wait. Don’t be afraid to say what you really mean, express how you really feel, share what you really need or to pursue what truly serves you. Don’t be afraid to be the real you and live the life of which you dream, no matter how hard it is. You are not much good to those around you or yourself until you are happy in your own skin. Life is not always easy but we certainly don’t need to make it any harder by shortchanging ourselves and it is twice as hard if you wait for the dynamite to blow up.
A few weeks from now marks the next leg of my journey. While this next step is accompanied by some regret and sorrow, it is also filled with excitement and promise of having the life I truly need. This step will be taken with a full on mission to be as authentic, open and ‘me’ as I possibly can.
I am ripping off the mask.