That is real freedom… Let’s be loved and respected for whom we truly are.

Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face I wear

for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,

masks that I’m afraid to take off,

and none of them is me.          

(Excerpt from Please Hear What I’m not Sayıng by Charles C. Finn )

I like this poem a lot because it’s so real. We all have masks, ones we started developing in childhood in order to adapt to different situations and environments.

I often hear mothers complaining by saying, “Oh, my son is a pain in the ass at home, but they say he’s an angel at school. In response, I think, “To be loved and accepted, your son is wearing his angel mask at school, but he gets so tired of wearing it all day long, so when he gets home, he behaves even worse than he normally would.”

As another example, think about how we behave on a first date. Are we really ourselves? Or do we put on masks to impress the other party and hide our darkness? Can you feel the pressure from the weight of all these masks on our souls?

Now stop for a minute and observe the people around you in your workplace or at a gathering with friends. Very few of them will be unmasked and behaving transparently. You can clearly see how most of them try to appear happier, stronger, smarter, braver, and more caring than they really are.

And why is this? It’s because we all need to be loved and respected. And to earn that love and respect, we put on our masks and try to meet the expectations of others. Let’s reflect on something for a little while, though. In reality, people are showing respect and expressing love to the masks we wear rather than to our true selves. Each mask we wear not only distances us from our true selves—it also adds to the weight we carry.

I had a dream about you last week. It was October 31, 2002 and we met at a Halloween party. You came dressed as yourself; I knew you’d been hiding your true self all this time.

Rodney Jenkins (Author of “Dreaming is for Lovers”)

Are we really aware of how much weight we accumulate from wearing all those masks during our journey through life?

What about discarding them one by one and releasing our true selves?

Let’s reflect ourselves openly and naturally. Let’s express what we really think instead of what we think people expect to hear, without being disrespectful or hurtful of course.

Let’s put an end to those fake smiles. Let’s stop hiding our feelings, and let’s start revealing what comes from the bottom of our hearts.

That is real freedom…

Let’s be loved and respected for whom we truly are.

But let’s also accept the consequences: Some people will disappear from our lives because they cannot accept or love our true selves. Let’s be thankful for this natural cleansing.

Let’s stop betraying ourselves and instead enjoy the weightlessness of being fully transparent to others as we let our true selves shine out.