Have you ever met someone that seemed like they were putting on a show? Or better yet, have you been that person that said something that didn’t feel true to you?
I’ve been that person. I’ve worn “masks” to act like I’m something other than my true self.
I didn’t even realize I was wearing masks until recently. I used to think this was just how you’re supposed to fit into society. You gain external validation by pleasing others, instead of pleasing yourself. You take on identities that serve this external validation. This is the core recipe for wearing masks.
Accumulating the masks
It all started for me in junior high. I remember the day I changed lunch tables to sit with the “cool kids.” I left my friends and current status for a new set of friends and status. Little did I know that would change the trajectory of my life. This was the first major mask I put on.
In high school I added more masks. Most of them related to partying, being liked, acting tough… anything to preserve the social status I had gained. Most of the actions I took in high school were not authentic to my true self. In fact, I threw away my love and talent for soccer because of these masks. I was simply too blind to see it at the time.
Then in college I acquired a few new masks. I learned to work hard, play hard, and then enjoy the social pleasures that college has to offer. I drove my dad’s old Mercedez-benz and thought I was “so tight” as we used to say.
In my 20’s and 30’s I continued to picked up masks. I became consumed with entrepreneurship. The competition of business and status games took center stage in my life, and I got good at playing the role. I attained the things most people want. From the outside, these masks made me super successful.
However, on the inside, these masks made me miserable.
I got lost in a state of confusion and turmoil. Some call it a mid-life crisis. I call it emptiness. Regardless of the name, it was clear that all the masks had gotten the best of me. They buried my soul, blocked my heart and took over my mind.
Removing the masks
Luckily, I became aware of this and started a journey to find my way back to self. I started removing masks which was scary, uncomfortable and painful. It’s wasn’t easy to undo things that people liked or valued about me…
But realizing my truth was more important than what others wanted. So I did my work. I got clear on the masks that needed to go.
Now I’m able to show up more authentically and spot the masks before I try them on. I’m able to live life on my terms with less dependency on what others think. I’m designing a life that supports who I really am.
After all this mask wearing I’ve found clarity in my true self.
- I’m an introvert. I like to be with myself most of the time, but enjoy others in moderation.
- I’m an athlete. Give me a sport with some rules and I’ll get lost in my passion for play.
- I’m an artist. I see the world in shapes, colors and balance.
- I’m a builder. I can create beautiful things when given space and freedom.
- I’m an explorer. I thrive in new environments and experiences with nature.
- I’m a guide. I like the challenge and responsibility of helping others find where they want to go.
- I’m an author. I get energy from creating and sharing content, especially if it helps people in some way.
- I’m a family man. I love doing life with my family and supporting them on their own journeys.
These aren’t masks, these are part of my core identity. They are the labels that define who I am today and what lights me up. They give me purpose and courage.
But all that other stuff… the identities wrapped up in the masks… no thanks. I’m done with that. And if someone doesn’t like or see me for who I am, they can take a hike. That’s their issue, not mine.
I’m also done investing time and energy into people who still wear masks. Take the status games somewhere else, please. I’m not interested in your latest and greatest performance. I’m interested in who you truly are.
What about you?
Are you still wearing masks or showing up authentically?
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Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.