Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Masks and Vulnerability

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 insecuritiesthat 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 liveor diebehind a mask?
mask, a photo by kynan tait on Flickr.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. There is a book I read my senior year in high school (1975) that has helped me. John Powell, "Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?"

    I just googled and copied some quotes from the book (I hope they are of some help):

    * The unreflected life isn't worth living. (Socrates)

    * I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it's all that I have.

    * I can help you to accept and open yourself mostly by accepting and revealing myself.

    * I can only know that much of myself which I have had the courage to confide to you.

    * What you and I really need is a moment of truth and a habit of truth with ourselves. We have to ask ourselves in the quiet, personal privacy of our own minds and hearts: What games do I play? What is it that I am trying to hide? What is it that I hope to win?

    * The defensive person cannot be a growing person because his world is no bigger than himself and
    the circle of his horizons is closed.

    * It is certain that a relationship will be only as good as its communication. If you and I can honestly tell each other who we are, … then and then only can each of us grow.

    * To reveal myself openly and honestly takes the rawest kind of courage.

    * Anyone who builds a relationship on less than openness and honesty is building on sand.

    * If I am willing to step out of the darkness of my prison, to expose the deepest part of me to another person, the result is almost always automatic and immediate: the other person feels empowered to reveal
    himself to me.

    * Whatever my secrets are, remember when I entrust them to you, they are part of me.

    1. Wow, I've got some unprecedented response to this post from my friends! It's good to know that you guys are watching me, and aren't afraid to let me know you're there :)

      Thank you so much for these awesome quotes! They're exactly what I need right now.

      Bless you,

  3. :( ...You sure can't say I never try :(

    1. Of course not, dear! I've actually told you more than most people :)

  4. Abigail, I must say this is a stirring post. I've had many of those "mask" moments, that tremulous second before you take the plunge and reveal your deepest secrets. It is a humbling experience, taking away the illusion of yourself that is dear to you. It is equally humbling to have someone do the same for you. Fortunately, I have been gifted with friends and family whom I can implicitly trust with these confessions. I know, because I removed another chunk of my mask two days ago. Just know that I will love you no matter what you do or who you are. Because that's family, it's what we do for each other.

    1. You are the sweetest, bestest cousin! I imagine that we all have masks in varying degrees, but it's so good to know that you and I will love each other no matter what we see under each other's facades.



Thanks for visiting! Please leave many comments, I love them!


Related Posts with Thumbnails