Let’s Talk About Masks…The Ones We Wore Before COVID-19

I have absolutely no sense of direction. I cannot seem to commit to a major- I like too many things (and that terrifies me). I am obsessed with dancing but most definitely got a ‘B’ on a dance exam and cannot make my body look eloquent for the life of me. I am a perfectionist who can take hours on the most minute assignments. 

But if you had just met me, you likely wouldn’t know any of that. 

You see, I often put on a mask to hide my quirks, weaknesses and insecurities. A beaming smile and my frequent use of Google Maps often does the trick, and poof, my aforementioned quirks are invisible. At least I hope they are, because I don’t want to look…imperfect. Peculiar. Messy. 

We all have quirks. We all have weaknesses. We all have insecurities. And I have a feeling many of us wear an invisible mask to conceal such things. 

Woman Covering Her Face With Her Hands Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

I never over-examined this invisible mask that I so often wear. I liked seeming put together and ready to tackle the world without the public knowledge of my blemishes, insecurities and inner-struggles standing in my way. 

I am sure so many of you feel the same. People do not need to know about your weaknesses, struggles or stories. You likely believe, like I did, that your invisible mask was a superpower like no other. 

But then, a guest speaker in my public speaking class shared one of his favorite quotes from Robin Roberts with my class that changed my opinion about this supposed superpower: “Make your mess your message.”

This quote shook me to my core. Robin Roberts actually suggested leveraging one’s mess, one’s struggles, one’s imperfections. She suggested that instead of running away from one’s mess, they should lean into it and make it a part of their story. 

She basically rejects the idea of wearing an invisible mask to hide your mess. 

face mask prevention Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

When I first heard this quote, I was bothered. I liked wearing my invisible mask because it made me feel safe. It enabled me to avoid being vulnerable with others. It made me refuse to acknowledge that these weaknesses and insecurities were part of my existence…or really, my imperfect existence. 

However, the guest speaker continued to explain that when we own our faults, when we embrace every inch of our existence and being, we can connect with others, and we can connect with ourselves. This type of connection is powerful and can build relationships and credibility leading to success and growth.

After listening to this phenomenal public speaker, I realized that at the end of the day, she was right. I am a human being. I am not perfect, and I will never be perfect. So I might as well embrace what hides behind my mask so that I can connect, learn from, grow with, and embrace myself and other human beings in a more authentic manner. 

It’s time I take off my mask. And maybe it’s time for you to take yours off, too. 

happy woman removing a face mask Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

These invisible masks that so many of us wear were here before Covid-19. And they will likely be here after. But I believe that if we can embrace who we are- the good, the bad, and the ugly- we can make this world a more authentic, better place. We can know that we are not alone in our insecurities and weaknesses. We can be okay with life being messy, and even talk about it, too.

So without my invisible mask, you may now know that I get lost on my way home, may not know what I want to do until I reach the age of 60, may never be that professional ballerina I have secretly longed to be, and may struggle with perfectionistic tendencies. But that’s okay. I want you to know. I want you to know that these quirks make me my free-spirited, optimistic, curious, loving, passionate, charismatic, crazy, messy self. 

I want to make my mess my message. And, I think I just did.

Now, will you? 

Photo credit: Her Campus Media Library