Batman, Spiderman, Zorro. Mask on, superhero. The identity secret, the effect on outsiders: brave, fearless, strong. Okay, and a tad mysterious. A piece of cloth or high-tech material as protective armour, not to reveal who you are. But even non-superheroes bend and disguise themselves without sword duels and distorted voices. Only that remains invisible for most people out there.
Many people are currently complaining about having to put on masks. But they did that before Corona. No matter whether at work or in our private lives – far too often we wear the masks of the reliable, unshakable real-life cousins of movie heroes.
You have to learn to smile with your eyes. But there are easier ones. With or without mask.
Who am I and how many?
Such an invisible mask is practical. It is about recognition, about control, about not being hurt or not hurting. We put it on, we can hide behind it, we do not share thoughts, wishes, fears or honest opinions, for fear of being teased, of appearing weak or possibly having to deal with conflicts in which the presence and effects of emotions can no longer be denied.
Let’s be honest: Who hasn’t already masked themselves with the “I-act-like-it-doesn’t-bother-me”-mask? Or the “i-don’t-care”-mask? The “Actually-I-want-a-relationship-but-that-is-not-cool-in-my-clique”-mask? Maybe with the “feelings-absence”-mask? The “Actually-I-like-you-more-than-friendship”-mask? But the “I-smile-simple-everything-away”-mask? Or the “I-say-yes-to-all-that-you-want-to-because-I-do-not-want-to-injure”-mask?
Disguise does not make a king. Or the queen
Planned for a long time after work, only suddenly totally tired and exhausted because of the unplanned stressful day – or spontaneously no real interest in the date tonight? Which mask should it be? Going out anyway, even though you are not on the job? Rather invent a more or less creative excuse instead of honestly telling what’s going on? Because you are afraid it could hurt the other person or make you look worse? Yes, I already did. I am not proud of it either. Zero. It’s just how anti-superheroic it is in the moment that you only realize when you think about it so carefully. When. And you’re ashamed faster than John Wick draws a gun.
Of course, one asks oneself the question: Are we really the way we see ourselves? Or what do we have to hide from others?
And: Can this work well if you burden yourself instead of burdening others? Spoiler: no.
Maybe we take decisions or things that are banged on our head seemingly motionless. Perhaps criticism or an unpleasant truth is not followed by a visible reaction, no recognizable facial expressions that provide insights into the emotional world below. But that does not mean that it is not there. And people like to hold that against me. Fair point, nobody can look inside me. And yes, actually it is totally human not to appear “cool”, “relaxed” or “tough” 24/7 in order to be respected by other people.
This does not mean that all thoughts should be shot at humanity unfiltered. Please. But holding back parts of your personality (for whatever reason) or accepting things that are actually repulsive does a lot to your self-esteem. Just absolutely nothing positive.
Unmasked, undisguised. One should express one’s personality to the outside world without fear.
Standing up is the better way to adjust
And that’s the point: We are just as good enough without a superhero face costume. Sure, one is always afraid (read also: what scares me) of unknown terrain. And to move on it without a mask or to get involved in it: always a risk. Especially if, like me, you like to drive feelings around behind three tons of steel and bulletproof glass. But if you’re not honest with yourself – and then with others – you might spoil things. Then your destination is on a terrain that you can’t reach with all the masks in the world. And I don’t want to make that mistake (anymore).