Taking Off the Mask…again.

Truth Byte #60

“Being real will get you there.”


I have tried on a lot of flavours in my life. After my early years as teacher’s pet and uber-nerd, I moved to my teens where I tried hard to make hip-hop culture fit me, and then into my early twenties, when I joined the pseudo-spirituality of the New Agers.


It is finally now, in my later thirties, that I am settling in to a hybrid version of all these other identities. I have come to peace with loving books more than people and the urgent-yet-glazed feeling I get when I am wrist-deep in a new novel. I have internalized the struggles of the marginalized, joining marches and protests when there is a social issue I just can’t keep quiet about. And I Feng Shui my house, and teach my kids how to stop their bodies from bruising through simple energy healing techniques.


What I have learned through the years is that no one group or philosophy really encompasses all of me.


I am a complicated flavour.


Until just a few weeks ago, I was trying to simplify myself, highlighting only one side of my personality and perspective at the expense of everything else.


I was trying to be happy, while forgetting to be real.


Today, I am being honest with you and myself: being real has got me this far in my life, love, work, and relationships, and being real is what is going to move me forward.


In my professional life, being real is what I teach my clients to do.  Most people who come to me are doing well in most areas of their lives, but there is one thing that just isn’t clicking for them.  Whether it’s a relationship issues with a loved one or colleague, whether it’s dissatisfaction at work, whether it’s a crisis of meaning, or whether it’s a persisting low mood that they just can’t shake, people come to me for a roadmap out of the minefield of their emotions.


And before we can even construct that roadmap, they need to remove their masks. It’s the only way they can see clearly.


Most of us have been constructing our masks for at least a decade or two.  We have been deliberately deciding what we will and will not show “the world”, our workmates, our acquaintances, even those in our closest circles. Most of us have learned that the only way to be successful is to be “on” most of the time, and most of us suffer from the unconscious fear that if people REALLY knew us, they would be horrified.


We are afraid to be alone, so we do our best to be liked.


But at what cost?


I’ll tell you what it cost me.


I took off my mask years ago, and then dedicated decades of time and effort into keeping it off so I could be real. I even entered a field (transpersonal psychology) that encourages people to remove their myriad of masks in order to move towards wholeness and wellness.


About six months ago, for some strange reason, I found myself behind the mask again. I was so desperate to by liked by certain people in my circle, that I found I would rather go along with them then think for myself. I would rather stray from my own vision for my work in the world and tag along with them than admit that our visions weren’t matched.


I would rather say yes then disappoint anyone.


And at the time, I didn’t see what I was doing.


Now I do.


And now I am changing.


From today, I promise to be real, even when it’s easier to just seem happy on the outside. If I am struggling, I will tell you. If I am joyous, you will know it. If I am confused and not sure what my next steps are, I will be honest about that.  And I will ask you, the people who actually care, the people who are committed to being real in their own lives, to hold me to that promise.


And what about you? Have you been hiding out, pretending you are fine when what you really need is a good, long cry? Have you been spending precious time around people who don’t really see you rather than giving in to just being alone? And if you have been brave enough to take off the mask, are you doing things each and every day to ensure that it stays off?


This life is too short to spend behind a mask, and if happiness is what we truly seek, I believe being real is what will get us there. It’s time for a ground-breaking event, and I want to tell you all about it.  For those who are ready for a real conversation about the complicated and conflicted realities of dealing with an addicted loved one, please consider joining me for my one-day intensive workshop in Calgary, Alberta this July, titled Addiction Needs Connection. You can email me at connect@talktosaira.com for more details.


It’s your life, and only you can live it.