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(Mask)erade: Getting Authentic

woman with red hair wearing black domino mask
Who are you beneath the mask?

Have you ever met or known a person that just tells it like it is? A person who is real, authentic, and often chooses not to push the edit button? Someone who makes you laugh internally because you can’t believe what just came out of their mouth? Well, allow me to introduce myself: the self-made real deal.

 

Was I always this way? Absolutely not. I spent the first 32 years of my life being an imposter, pretending to be someone I was not. I was told at a very young age to never “bare my dirty linen in public.” So, my interpretation of that was to hide myself and not let anyone know who I truly was. 


It is amazing the power a six-word sentence had on how I decided I should live my life…

 

  • I went to great lengths to master being physically attractive and liked by others. My clothes, shoes, and handbags became a daily focus—hiding the fact they were all knock offs.

  • I would beautifully wrap gifts in designer labeled bags that I purchased from a bargain store; never letting on when the receiver ogled the gift with, “you shouldn’t have.”

  •  I bought a convertible Porsche and drove around the beach cities—music blaring, towel draped around my neck, and a tennis racket peeking out the top. And no, I did not play tennis. Ever.

  •  Cubic zirconia became my best friend. Fancy matchbooks—from restaurants I never dined at—were displayed for all to see. Godiva chocolates from a half-off sale sat on a Saks Fifth Avenue coaster I found at the Dollar Tree.

 

I was an exhausted, financially challenged, low self-esteem fraud wearing a mask.

 

Finally Getting Real

My life changed when I attended a human development training.

 

I was with a group of about 100 participants. The song “This Masquerade,” by George Benson, played as the background to individuals sharing their tough life stories. I heard stories that were similar to mine—some excruciatingly raw. The courage they had to be so vulnerable was admirable, and I found myself respecting them for it.


I started to realize that being real was so attractive, and that trust was available if one was willing to be vulnerable. I felt like I had finally been given the green light to get real and start living an authentic life. I got to experience the me I was meant to be.

 

Soon after the training, I opened a company to provide team and leadership development to many organizations—with some of those being personal awareness. In most cases, I only got to be with each group for one day, meaning I had just 8 hours to reach them and make a difference


I became urgent. I was not willing to waste their time, or one more precious moment trying to be anything but real. I became so vulnerable that it was like standing in front of them naked. 

 

Time and time again, witnessing each participant quickly become vulnerable was like magic. They desperately clung to each life lesson learned and, one by one, the gradually removed their masks.

 

I wondered, was this actually magic? Or, was it just more evidence that we all want so badly to be accepted for who we truly are? Was this a testimony to the courage we long for—to be authentic, taking a chance to trust again? Is it the deep desire to forgive, and move on from the times we felt “burned?” When our trust is broken—disappointment or betrayal taking a front row seat—it becomes a heavy load to carry through life, and we get ripped off from having the deep connections we dream about.

 

Tips for removing your mask & getting authentic:

  • Tell someone you trust one “uncomfortable” story about yourself they don’t already know. Ask them their thoughts—how do they now see you? (I have a funny feeling you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their answer.)

  • Examine the areas of your life where you want people to see you in a certain way that is not exactly the truth. Then, ask yourself why it’s important they see you in this way. Why is it important if they don’tsee you this way? Are you willing to let go of this facade to have something different?

  • Ask yourself if you’re willing to continue having superficial relationships, missing out on true connections you desire? What are you willing to risk?

  • Be committed to always telling the truth in both big and small situations. No more made-up stories, even if the truth makes you uncomfortable. If you want to start trusting others, it goes both ways: they must be sure you can be trusted.

  • Always hold sacred someone’s confidential sharing. Never side talk beginning with, “Don’t tell them that I told you, but…” 

 

Now, take a moment to listen to the song “This Masquerade,” by George Benson. Notice some of the lyrics…

Are we really happy here in this lonely game we play… Searching but not finding understanding anywhere… We're lost in this masquerade."

You can have the relationships you long for if you get rid of your mask and let the world see you for who you are. Let your vulnerability lead and go get your shine on! 

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So powerful......being one's true self isn't always easy! But you have made it work🙂

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