Fall always gets me into a nostalgic mood. It’s a struggle for my anxiety and depression, last year I even took an entire blogging break for the season. It always puts me in a reflective state of mind. So maybe it’s because of that or maybe it’s because it’s right around Halloween but I’ve been thinking a lot about masks recently. Masks and personas.
For most of my life I’ve always talked about my walls. I have a lot of them. Walls are kinda my thing. But lately I’ve been thinking about it less as walls that I put up and more like masks that I put on.
It may seem like semantics but, to me at least, there is a difference. Walls keep people out and that’s not my intention, not really. Walls also make me think of princesses locked in towers that need to be rescued and I definitely don’t need that.
But masks. Masks are things within my control. Masks are things I can take on and off as necessary. And with a vast collection of masks, I can select the one that best fits the situation and circumstance.
Have you seen the dark 1980s film Return to Oz? It’s one of my favorites and one scene in particular involves a queen that Dorothy meets. What Dorothy doesn’t realize at first is that the queen has the ability to change her head. Literally. She keeps an entire gallery of heads and depending on her mood or need she’ll change her head.
(Seriously, tho. How awesome would that be? Having a bad hair day? Just pick a head having a good one. Headache? Switch it out.)
The fact that I saw this when I was a kid probably explains why it resonates with me so much. Those films you see as a child dig in deep and I can certainly relate to wanting to be someone other than yourself at times.
But, really, watching the film you get the sense that each head serves a purpose or mood. Sometimes the queen needs to be the nice gentle ruler that everyone loves. She has a head for that. Other times she needs to be the heartless queen who takes no shit. That’s a different head.
For me it’s survival. Which sounds weird, but as someone who moves through life feeling anxious and overwhelmed, having masks let me adopt a persona other than myself to function. At least temporarily. I have the mask that can make polite small talk when necessary. The mask that will get me to work. The mask that will help me get through functions with lots of people.
I’ve had people tell me that it always surprises them that as a shy introvert who really doesn’t like people I have zero issue getting up in front of an audience, sometimes upwards of 500 people, and giving a presentation or doing an interview with a huge bestselling author.
That? That’s my I Like Being The Center of Attention mask. Or, as someone told me, I’m an introvert who can put on an extrovert shell.
I honestly have no idea what the point of this post is. It’s just something that’s been brewing in my brain for awhile that I needed to get out. I know this blog has gone through so many transitions over the past five years since I started and I don’t nearly blog as often as I used to, so thanks for reading those rare times when I do.
Love from the ashes,