Beneath the masks

Overcoming the fear of being myself

I’m reading Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us at the moment. It’s a beautiful and evocative novel exploring the lives of two people, Eva and Jim, from three different versions of their future. It’s a brilliant story about the choices we make and the different paths our lives might follow. I highly recommend it.

I say all that, though, to say this. Yesterday, while reading the book on the bus as I rode to work, I couldn’t help but be moved by this line:

“He has never truly allowed her to know him, to slip beneath the various masks he presents to the world.”

I had to stop reading and jot that sentence down in my notebook.

And I’ve been reflecting on it ever since.

Does my wife truly know me? 
What masks do I wear and present to the world?

I began, if I’m honest, to feel a little guilty.

But then I quickly realised that even I still don’t truly know me. I’m thirty-eight and I’m continually making discoveries about who I am and how I’m wired.

And if I don’t fully know myself, what hope does my wife or anyone else have?

That said, I’m an introvert and I’m aware I do struggle to express myself at times. I know I’m a somewhat guarded person. This line from the novel reminded me that I do want to be—need to be—a more open and vulnerable person with those around me.

And also in my writing too. I’m always inspired by those who feel the freedom to write so candidly about their lives, their thoughts, their feelings. Their openness feels like a freedom from the fear of what others think that I aspire to.

Though I think there will always be a degree of unknowing about who we are, and there will be times when we feel the need to wear a mask, I am challenged afresh to work to remove these barriers as much as I can.

To be myself.


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Image: Zach Guinta

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