Friday, March 13, 2009
My Masks & Me
i was in a learning space this week with a group of friends that left me with questions on identity. Facets of my identity have been created over the years, based on my roles and relationships. Each space that i am in – the core of my identity shines through but there is a mask i take on - depending on how i perceive that space for myself. both in terms of what i need to give in and what i get for myself. And over a period of time, i have two or three masks that become an integral part of my identity. Masks through which i express myself or relate to the other in that space. Masks through which i set and fulfill expectations.
I would like to believe that there is some space, some relationship in my life where i am authentically ‘just me’ - mask-less. But that is far from the truth. i always have a mask on, no matter what space i am in. The quality of masks differ, at times an impenetrable iron plate, giving no clues about the colour of my skin or the look in my eyes and at times, a thin, almost transparent, veil of chiffon, offering a connection seeped in authenticity.
But then the question for me that stays unanswered is - what comes first - the relationship / space or the mask? As far as i can remember, i have held on to some mask or the other - and they have become my primary means of connecting with someone or living upto a role. So WHAT is this big fear of staying mask-less even as a intimacy grows; the fear of being completely open and therefore maybe vulnerable to the other? Sure, each mask helps in satisfying some need of mine in that space, but what about me do i perceive as so unacceptable if there is no mask to cover it?
As i got thinking about the different masks i don, i also got in touch with how it is most difficult for me to let go of the masks that i have taken on in my childhood. Much before my own independent identity was formed. Though there has been a lot of learning and growing and challenging of the self since i was a little girl, I simply cannot drop the mask from those early years. Almost as if peeling off that mask would mean having to scrape of my skin itself, leaving me covered with raw, wounded flesh. Or like a friend asked: do i hold on to the mask to cover the wounds that are already there, afraid of the vulnerability or even rejection that i would then have to deal with?
I don't even know if i want to take the masks off; whether i really can is a different matter altogether. But now the big question for me to work on - can i see me in the mirror without any masks on and be accepting of what i see?