Why do we feel this intense pressure to act as if everything is great and that we are always okay. Why do we as a society put such limiting and unrealistic expectations on one another? There is so much loneliness in the world. There are so many lonely people in the midst of a crowed. There are people who you think are so happy and content that are hiding great pain and sorrow. There are people who are surrounded by people but feel completely disconnected. There are people smiling when they really want to cry, and maybe they should be crying actually. Why do we feel like we have to be “little miss ray of sunshine” in order to be accepted? Or maybe in a different crowed we feel the pressure to be constantly cynical and unhappy in order to be accepted. Why can’t we just be real?

The truth is that we are not always happy. Sometimes we have good reasons to be heavy-hearted, and acting like little miss sunshine in those times is actually a little insane. We also are not always miserable, and acting as if the world is coming to an end all the time is equally crazy.

I spent many years of my life covering up and pushing down a great deal of pain and sorrow. I felt that I had to hide the truth about my life when I was growing up. I had to be happy all the time even though I was often quite depressed.  Showing weakness was a big no-no for me. It was not something that I consciously did, but it was a behavior that I had learned so well that it seemed natural.

Now that I am older I realize that all of that truth, all of those negative feelings, all of the sorrow that I pushed down and ignored  did not go anywhere. It remained inside me and festered. When you fake it and push real feelings and truth away without releasing it….it actually gets worse. And it comes out in other ways like depression, addictions, loneliness, sickness, moodiness, dysfunction and the list goes on and on.

I was so well-trained in my childhood to hide things and to show the world a “happy front” that I still find it extremely difficult to cry. Now I know logically that crying is good and okay. It is natural and helpful, but it does not come naturally for me so I continue to hold back, and the reward is a very heavy heart at times. I honestly wish that I could just be the girl who cries at the drop of a hat sometimes. It would feel so much better, but I am having to relearn everything that I learned growing up. And I learned to be strong and to hold it together very well apparently. But that is not healthy all the time.

I do not put on the “happy front” all the time anymore. Sometimes I feel happy, but if  I don’t then I am not going to fake it at all times anymore. I don’t want to constantly live behind a mask anymore, and I am bothered by the fact that most people seem to live behind masks most of their lives. It seems to be the norm in our society, and it is not healthy. It takes away our human connection. It hides our hearts. It is not real.

Real is not always pretty. Sometimes it is dark and raw, but it is beautiful. It is art. It is romance. It is a masterpiece in the making. It is a dance that is life. It is human, and it is spirit. It is real. It is truth. And truth cannot be wrong in my book.

I still have not mastered the art of living totally mask free at all times. Sometimes my mask is on, and I do not even notice it because it feels so natural. Sometimes it just feels easier to have it on, but I am getting there. I am working on it. I am taking risks, and little by little I am becoming free. One day I will live my life completely free of the mask.

I wrote a poem one day when I was struggling with this issue in myself and in our society called, “About Us.”

Here it is:

If you took off your mask who would you be?
If you remove all those things that you want us to see?
All of the things that you wish you could be

Take off the suit that you put on to make us believe you are doing so well.
What weakness is really hiding under your veil?
What is the reality that is hidden from us?
What truth are you afraid that we will see?
Who are you really behind all the happy faces, wise words and good deeds?

I think I’d rather know the you that’s inside.
Even the pain that you try so hard to hide.
You are more interesting with all of your flaws.
All of this fake wholeness is a bore and a lie.
Show your true self. You might be surprised if you try.

It’s your pain, your imperfections, your real humanity,
That makes you the most uniquely beautiful person to me.
So when you have the courage to reveal your true self to me,
My mask falls off, our true lights connect, and we are both set free.

I am trying to get to the heart of my authentic self. It is scary at times, and people will reject it. There are people who want to cling to their own mask and so they do not want anyone else to remove theirs. This is a chance that I have to take though. I have come to the point in life when I cannot live outside of myself anymore. I encourage people to join me in this. It is freeing in spite of the risks. Thanks to everyone who is willing to take off their own mask and is also willing to allow others to do the same.

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