I have mastered the art of deception. Not that I have been going around lying and cheating people but I have been deceiving people about who I am. I have created a mask for myself as a form of protection. I am afraid of letting people in; afraid of letting people see the real me because I am afraid of their reaction. Life does that to you. It’s more so suppression than deception. My views and beliefs are all the same with or without the mask but my self-expression is muted to the world because of my many Carrie* moments. For most of us, we have had our Carrie moments that led us to be deceptive about who we are. I always wonder if a person I am talking to is the person they really are or the person they pretend to be because of past hurts and experiences. This makes for an endless cycle of discovery that can be exciting or very painful.
Let me tell you about one of the first Carrie moments that led me to create a mask. I had just started a new school. It was an artistic school and though there was more togetherness at this elementary school, I was still an outsider. These kids didn’t even give me a chance and when one of them started a conversation with me, I thought it was my chance to show them that I was worthy of being a friend. Well, the conversation quickly turned in a typical elementary crush conversation. She asked me if I liked a boy in our class and of course I blushed and became bashful. I asked her not to tell and what do you think she did? She said she wouldn’t tell but went right up to him and told him. I still remember his reaction, 20 years later, and it was a reaction of disgust and the classroom laughed. Now, let me just say, I am beautiful… maybe not what society deems as the perfect woman but I have never had issues dating 😉 His reaction may have been an pre-pubescent reaction or he just wasn’t into me but it hurt deep none the less. That day, I learned that people, other than my sisters, could not be trusted with my emotions so I locked them away and kept them all to myself and my sisters. With each Carrie moment, I made adjustments to my mask, hiding more and more about myself. I am an example of the discovery cycle being painful.
Today, when people meet me, they see the sides of me that are difficult to hide like my awkwardness, nervousness and occasionally fear. So to them I am a timid, awkward mess but unless I let them in, they miss all the good stuff about me. Most people never learn that I used to be a dancer or that I am passionate about writing or that I felt honored to serve my country or that I care deeply for them even if we aren’t close. I deceive because most people do not care to look past the surface. A lot of our friendships are based on what is known easily but not what is learned so when the truth is revealed, victims are created because of the lack of compassion. I always say, “I shouldn’t have to tell you everything, you should want to know.” Everyone expects to be handed everything without the effort of doing upfront work. All relationships take work and one person should be responsible for revealing themselves to someone who isn’t interested in learning about them. At the same time, if someone is interested in learning about another person, they shouldn’t have to force answers to their questions. It’s a two-way street and both parties need to work.
This blog is helping me to open up to people, reveal myself, regardless of reaction. I am learning that I am me and I don’t have to be accepted by everyone. I must love others for their difference and trust that I will be loved for my own. My sisters have always loved my difference. I think they even appreciate that I am outside the box. I am also learning to love myself in my relationship. My husband is showing me that even in all my flaws, I am beautiful the way I am. I just need to start seeing myself the way he does.
Take off your mask and be you!
*Referring to the movie (1979)/book Carrie by Stephen King