The past week I’ve been working on two different pieces of writing, but as I explore the characters further, I am beginning to discover that there are some similarities between them. In the novel I am working on, Thomas presents himself as a confident, masculine and strong person who knows and gets exactly what he wants and cares little for the feelings of the women he used and left behind. Yet, on the inside he is just a lonely and scared little boy who craves affection, comfort and most of all he wants someone to love and love him in return -unconditionally. This is similar to the female lead in the (not so) short story I’m working on, “she” hides her feelings from everyone around her as she is afraid of being hurt. Both of these characters wear a metaphorical mask, hiding their true self from the world and even hiding from those closest to them, for fear of being hurt, embarrassed or even as a way of feeling confident.
These are not just fictional character traits though. All of us at some point in our lives, in one situation or another, have worn a mask, hiding our true self from the world. Think about the time when you smiled politely and nodded in agreement with someone, when really on the inside you were thinking that they were a complete and utter moron and you really wanted to tell them what you truly thought. Or perhaps, it was a friend you had feelings for, but you never did anything about it, for fear of rejection. Instead you wore the mask of ‘best friend’ and even listened to them talk about someone they were smitten by, telling them how ‘awesome’ the person sounded and that they should ‘go for it’, while on the inside you are screaming at them, “what about me? Aren’t I good enough for you?” Perhaps it was a work function or event you were practically forced into attending. You smile, mingle and make polite conversation but on the inside you are thinking that your ideal Friday night is curled up on the lounge with a good book not spending time with John* from accounts who is a complete and utter tool and needs a good whack across the face and Jenny* from the front desk who really should have dressed a little more modestly for a work function unless her aim is to sleep her way to the top. The point is, we all wear masks and often we posses the ability to wear many different masks. Sometimes our masks are to meet societal expectations, other times they are for self-preservation, but at some point we’ve all worn a mask. The question is though, do we constantly wear some type of mask and do we ever, really, let our true self shine through? Is there that one person who is “The One” who knows every emotion, thought, desire and physicality of our being? Or do we present different facets of our true self to a few select people who are closest to us?
After providing some food for though, I have two small excerpts to share with you today. The first is an excerpt from the (not so) short story, where the male character is talking about “her” and the mask that she wears. The second is an excerpt from my novel I’m working on, where Thomas is discussing one of the many masks that he wears.
Feel free to post any comments and thoughts about today’s post.
I know her well enough to know that the way she is behaving is a coping mechanism and the mask she wears is to shut everyone out, even those she cares for. As those who we care for the most, are the ones who can also hurt us the most, but I would never hurt her in any way. -“Him”
By nothing short of a miracle, I managed to make it through dinner without telling my grandmother exactly what I thought of her and the way she was treating Rosie. Thankfully I was able to make polite conversation with the other people dining with us and I maintained my mask for society, you know the one with the polite smile and the perfectly timed compliments? Rosie is worried though, not because of the way my grandmother is treating her or worried that she might not fit in, but worried because she can see the fine lines that are becoming cracks in my mask. She is the only one who would see these cracks forming, the only person who knows the real me. –“Thomas”
*”John” and “Jenny” are not based on real people
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