The Truth Behind Every Mask

· August 12, 2016

In general, most of us love dressing up at Halloween and maybe even wearing a mask celebrate it. We love to play pretend during a certain time of year, hiding behind a character and living in other realms of reality and fantasy.

However, we don’t realize that apart from Halloween, we tend to wear masks almost daily to hide from others, or even ourselves. Other people see an image that we put on for the public. Afraid of being alone, or simply in order to follow social patterns, we hide behind elaborate disguises.

“The terrible thing is that to establish a connection, if you want to communicate with others, you have to invent a kind of character who communicates, which isn’t the same as what’s inside you, and from there you start to believe more and more in the character, you forget about yourself and you believe in the character.”

-Manuel Puig-

The mask says more than your face

A mask is a disguise, an object that hides your true face and changes your physical appearance. So metaphorically, a mask is also a way to cover up your personality and portray an identity that’s different from your real one.

One of the most common unconscious reasons for presenting yourself as someone you’re not is the fear of not being respected, loved, or accepted. It’s normal to pretend slightly and not be completely honest because you feel more secure when you are what others expect you to be.

Hiding yourself is a human reaction to the fear of being judged. For example, you can act tough so other people don’t see you as vulnerable, you look truly stoic at a funeral, you act friendly in order to keep your job, etc.

mask of flowers

We pretend what we are, and we are what we pretend

Calderón de la Barca left us with the following message: we put so much effort into pretending, but we don’t bother to try to accept who we really are and improve ourselves. It seems much easier to lie and be insincere, operating only in superficiality. 

All this does is create an environment in which appearances take precedence over true feelings. We get carried away by prejudices, images, and assumptions. It would be beneficial to learn to take off your own mask, and look beyond other people’s masks when you encounter one.

The best way to take off the mask is to get to know your true self and give it a chance. This way, you can show your true self to the people around you without any gimmicks, and with your own magic. Without all those unnecessary illusions, you’ll be much happier, because you’ll realize that everything and everyone has a place in life.

For some people, the mask doesn’t hide them, it reveals them

Contrary to how it may seem, the mask that you create will start to fall off or develop holes sooner or later, shedding light on the truth behind it. This is what happens to most people: the mask reveals who they truly are because time ends up betraying them.

woman holding mask

In other words, the more elaborate the mask is, the more your true self will show, just like José Saramago taught us. The danger is that not only will you have deceived yourself, but you’ll also have deceived others. Relationships are based on honesty and trust, and pretending to be someone you’re not automatically eliminates these two virtues.

We all know what it’s like to have someone who we thought we knew deceive us and find out they weren’t who we thought they were. The truth ends up showing us behaviors that they had tried to hide from us.

“When he looked at us, it seemed like he was looking for the truth inside of us, or he knew that behind everything, there was something else.”

-Clara Sánchez-

The Pain of Lies and Deceit