Lately, there has been a trend of creepy clown sightings, and this recent spate has become worse because of social media. Thankfully, other than a few arrests, there have been no cases of assault. Overall, the concern over these clowns is benign. Most clowns do not seek to frighten, but instead, work to spread smiles and bring joy. But, fear of clowns is nothing new. There have always been those uncomfortable with the exaggerated features of clowns. Their costumes include dramatic makeup, bright clothes, and crazy hair. With this disguise, the real identity is hidden.
But yet, clowns are not the only ones with masks.
In a similar way, people create various masks to cope, to escape, or to protect themselves. People’s responses are dependent on the image, or mask, we present to them. Sometimes we use social media as a way to mask reality. There, we don't often share about the rough, or even mediocre, days. We would rather share the high points, and sometimes exaggerate things to sound better. Our friends and family are shown a false reality leading them to believe that our lives are perfect, exciting and filled with adventure.
The mask you choose may not be as obvious as a clown costume. Your mask may be the way you portray yourself online. It could be how you answer the question, ‘How are you?’. It could also be the way you use television, alcohol, or food to avoid addressing problems and walking through real emotions.Each of us has something we would prefer to keep hidden. Perhaps you’ve created a mask to disguise a secret you've kept for years or a situation you are in, right now. Masks bring us a certain level of comfort as they help us avoid or suppress a problem. In creating the mask, we distract ourselves from the real problem or threat in our life.
This week, start small and be honest. What are you hiding behind? Think of those things in which you invest the most time. Are those things acting as a mask and a distraction from something more important? Taking off our masks is scary. It can be intimidating. But being honest with ourselves, and living authentically, can have great rewards.
Remember, everyone has a mask and is facing circumstances you know nothing about. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the masks of your friends, neighbours and families. Your smile, inquiring words, or a hug, may be the most encouraging thing someone experiences today.