You know you're probably wearing a mask if someone asks you to strip it away.
I'm sitting around a campfire with some of my best girlfriends. We're lighting up the night with crackling flames; laughing, swapping stories, roasting marshmallows so big they nearly fall off the stick, trying to keep our voices down low enough to not disturb the neighboring tents.... We're using Ungame cards as conversation starters and going around the circle, sharing things we'd never dare speak if the darkness wasn't cozy all around us, hedging us into a circle of comrades.
Then my friend gets a card that gives her a free question; she can ask anyone anything she wants. "Abby, what is something that you've never told anyone?"
I'm shocked, flabbergasted, and dozens of things rush into my mind, all the things I can't say. I'm not a naturally open girl. Call me introverted, call me shy, the truth is that I'm not too keen on sharing my personal feelings. Oh I break down plenty of times, or get riled, and I'm quick to share my opinions, but when it comes to sharing the deep, dark corners of my soul I get hopelessly embarrassed and tongue-tied. In a way, I'm hiding behind a mask. I'll talk about my work, my school, my future, but talking about my feelings, my secret thoughts, my insecurities―that hurts. No one sees exactly what goes on underneath that surface.
“Underneath my outside face
There's a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.”
―Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It
I end up telling her about one of my less-sensitive embarrassments, my legs (pale, you know, with funny knees). But what about the other things? The things I don't blog about, the things I cry on my pillow over and speak out to God on windy days? What lies behind your mask?
This night teaches me something, let's me know about the things I've been hiding, and how many of them there really are. I'm more than willing to have a friend dish about her problems to me and cry on my shoulder, but I would never consider doing the same. "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." There's a distinct possibility that I have been limiting my friendships by holding back the realest parts of myself, and I suspect that I'm not the only one. When was the last time you were absolutely honest with someone, the last time you tore off that self-sufficient mask and let it all hang out?
Being vulnerable is going to hurt, but we have to do it. Who wants to live―or die―behind a mask?