I remember that when I was young, department stores sold those really cheap, molded Halloween masks. Often they were spooky in their simplicity; which is to say that they were effective at scaring mostly just the younger kids. Present day versions are so life-like and much more believable.
I vividly recall there being some significant drawbacks to wearing those masks. They were uncomfortable, with the rubber bands either pinching behind my ears or snapping me when I didn’t expect it. I couldn’t see much out of those little eye holes either and my mask caused me to perspire across my entire face, which meant that I eventually miscalculated the distance to a curb or fire hydrant, resulting in my face-planting with my candy strewn all over the neighbor’s yard. Funny that I would put out all of that effort for a little candy, which I ended up hiding and subsequently trying to protect from my thieving brothers.
Looking back, the irony from my days of trick-or-treating is that most people, who really knew me or my family, could tell right away that it was me under the molded Frankenstein or clown face. Who was I kidding anyway….mostly just myself.
Fast forward to today. As a grown man, I need to be careful not to trade my authentic self for some cheap disguise. One of the biggest risks these days is that an adult false-face can initially be very rewarding in business or in personal relationships. There are times when the potential for some perceived success tempts me to abandon what’s authentic; moreover, I’m like you and nearly every other human alive—I naturally don’t like to fail or risk suffering some negative social consequence.
Similar to the childhood disguises I spoke about earlier — posing only delays the inevitable consequences that come from not being my authentic self. There are instances where I immediately catch myself and I realize that I’m slipping into a persona that’s not me, while there are other times in which there is a larger interval between donning a mask and my inevitable dismay over betraying my truer self. Regardless, I have learned that trying to navigate life, while posing as someone who I am not is ineffective on nearly every level. It leaves me feeling as I did when I was a child: struggling to breathe, sweating what the future holds, and clumsily making my way through life. In time and without exception, the real me wants to be expressed. When I pose, I trip and then I face-plant, and ultimately I scurry about picking up the more genuine parts and pieces that I should have never covered-up in the first place.
Unlike a Halloween mask– the greatest risk of trading the real me for a fake isn’t that I’ll be ineffective and get called out by those who know and love me. Rather, the real risk for me is that my posing works and it leaves me battling to breathe, work and find a meaningful life from inside a cheap disguise.
More than ever, I am committed to BEING real with everyone………. no matter what!
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!