It’s not easy to show who you really are. For most of my life, I hated myself with a burning, all-consuming passion. I’d look at myself in the mirror every day and scowl at the angry, broken person staring back. My own self-loathing clouded my perspective and my judgement, leading me to believe that everyone else hated me just as much as I did. I threw up all of my defenses and refused to let anyone in, lashing out at anyone who so much as brought up my unhappiness. For years, no one knew who I really was.  It wasn’t like I was particularly easy to talk to or reason with, but I had to reach the realization that I had to want to change to make any sort of progress.

As I’ve recounted many times before, this realization didn’t hit me until I was sick of viewing the world through my hateful lenses. The road to my “rebirth” began with some lifestyle changes, such as cutting out negative people and actually going out and seeking help. To start, I would cautiously tell my parents and my therapist what I was thinking or how I felt, and every time I did this I was shocked that the hurt never came. Instead, I felt so incredibly free. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing I felt. It was an overwhelming sense of joy that bordered on elation, a feeling that was completely foreign to me.

We are all guilty of putting on different masks at one time or another during our lives. The need to wear a mask usually comes from a paralyzing fear, a fear of being exposed or vulnerable. In our heads, it might appear safe, even healthy at times, but it really is quite the opposite. The masks we put on in our daily lives chip away at our happiness, our confidence, and our self-worth. I honestly can’t think of any greater detriment to a person’s emotional well-being than the choice to hide themselves out of a fear of being rejected or ostracized.

All too often, I’ll be talking to a friend or acquaintance, and I’ll take a mental inventory of all of their insecurities and defense mechanisms. It’s not because I’m judging them, it’s because I have to see the mask to help them remove it. Sometimes they’ll slip and say or do something that they truly believe in before retreating even further the second they are rejected. I see this happen all the time, and I discreetly try to peel away their layers so that I can look upon who they truly are and who they are meant to be. Most of the time, I start the process by simply asking, “Why?” Often, whoever I’m talking to won’t give me much, but the silence speaks volumes to me and instills an even stronger sense of determination to help.

I urge you, all of you, to grant yourself the freedom, the gift to be you. Nothing is more liberating than being stripped bare of your fears and facades, so that the world sees you and loves you for that. We need more people to step forward and be themselves. It’s such an incredibly brave thing to do, and I sincerely doubt that your courage will be rejected or scoffed at.

You are powerful, worthy, and so, so important. It’s about time you start believing that and go show this world what you’ve got.

79 thoughts on “Masks

  1. I appreciate that simple concise article. I relate so completely as this was my own journey. Now I am looking at supporting my 9 year old son with Asperger’s through this journey. He is at the stage of hating himself…particularly as he is starting to compare himself with his peers. At least he talks to us about it. I tell him the world is so much more than the tiny group of boys he goes to school with. I am on a mission to bring out his strengths and expose him to that lare world. Looking forward to making the drive down for one of your social events. Thank you so much for all the resources and networking opportunities!

  2. Thank you for your inspiring articles! You are changing this world one person at the time! And THAT is Beautiful!!!!!

  3. What you have said is so true! Mt 22 year old son, who has NOT been diagnosed with AS but who has so many of the symptoms, needs to come to this realization on his own, but has yet to do so. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get him closer?


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