Yesterday, for Halloween, my daughter came over with the kids for dinner and then trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. After we ate, everyone put on their costumes and got ready to head out. But when the time came to leave, our 4-year-old didn’t want to go. He was afraid–mostly of the scary masks. So I stayed in with him to pass out treats while the others went out into the neighborhood. But if kids rang the doorbell wearing masks, he wouldn’t go near the door.
I thought about this after. Why is he so afraid of masks? Yes, some of them are scary and most are not very becoming, but he knows they’re not real; he knows there’s someone behind them and he knows that they can be taken off. And then I thought about the fact that he’s 4 years old and maybe he doesn’t really understand what’s not real. He doesn’t know yet how to be anything but authentic. He hasn’t yet reached the age where many of us put the mask on and leave it there. That point in our lives where we start to believe that we have to be a certain way to please everyone and to be accepted. How many of us are in this boat and as a result, unhappy, unfulfilled, and scared behind the mask?
I believe that most of us truly want to see, hear and feel what is real. We may not always like what we get, but at least we know where we stand. Real is a far more profound teacher than fake or phony. We can better tap into and understand our own authenticity if those around us are expressing their true selves and we can, in turn, help others to do the same. And when we understand exactly who we are, we can better grow into the people we want to be. And this is what true beauty is all about.
So can we all take off our masks and store them for Halloween? Hope so…