“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ―
We all wear masks to trick the outside world that’s just the way life is. You portray yourself differently for different people. You act innocent and respectful and sweet around your parents. You act smart and hardworking in front of teachers and your boss. You try to be your best most interesting self with romantic interests. Even with friends, you probably don’t tell each one everything. Maybe who we are is all of these masks combined and maybe it isn’t.
It’s hard to tell where you stop and the mask begins. If you act a certain way for so long, it becomes a part of you. We pick up different traits and actions. We mimic others. At some point, you have to stop and ask yourself who you are. I know that I couldn’t come up with an answer for that question. I might really be who I am when I’m alone, or I might be a combination of all the people I am in different settings. But that still doesn’t answer which thoughts and traits and actions are entirely my own and not influenced in some way by an outside source.
When I read a book, I pick up ideas and see personality traits of characters that I admire. Subconsciously, I feel that this alters who we are just a bit. If I’m around people for long enough, I pick up mannerisms and habits like sayings from them, and subconsciously do them myself. So how can I ever possibly determine where I stop and the mask begins? Everything gets all muddled together. We are constantly changing and putting on a mask. Everyday you might be someone different.
“Don’t you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?” ―
I think maybe the mask is a form of protection. If I don’t know who I am, how can anyone else know who I am? If they never see the real you, maybe it hurts less if they reject you. I’m not sure that you can ever fully know someone, or that they can know you. I think we do this as a survival mechanism to blend into our surroundings and do the best we can there. I know that it really upsets me when I find out that people aren’t who I though they were, but at the same time maybe misrepresenting themselves wasn’t intentional.
I think we kind of act how we perceive the person we are around wants us to act. We try to be the exact replica of what we think that for that person is ideal. But even if it’s subconscious, different traits of ours that are less than ideal always break through at some point. This is when people realize they don’t know you. This is when relationships end. This is when people leave. I feel like it’d hurt a lot more if people rejected entirely who I am rather than just a faint shadow of it. Maybe, we put on a mask just because we know that we aren’t yet who we want to be, and we don’t want others to see us until we are perfect.
I don’t really think there is one clear solution. I know a lot of people struggle with identity and where in this world they fit in. I can’t just be me when I don’t really know who I am yet.