People have worn masks since the beginning of time and for various reasons. Venetians wore masks to get away with gambling debts, negotiate love and business deals, or enter convents without being recognized. Ashamed bankrupt nobles used masks to beg in the street and married women were allowed in theaters only if they were masked. In modern times, masks have been mostly used for entertainment.
Imagine you are going to a gathering where you do not need an invitation. However, you must wear a masked costume. Your eyes are the only part of your body that you may reveal.
No one knows or is expecting you. It is something like the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” but more colorful, friendlier, and without the macabre rituals. What mask will you choose? Would you prefer a mask that offered a hint of predictable behavior or one that was inexpressive and yet mysterious?
At first, you appear vulnerable and self conscious. You wonder if the costume says anything about the person that wears it. Then you remember that every one in that room is like you. All of the sudden you feel relieved. You realize that those may not be people’s real personalities.
Every movement and sound are new to you. You begin to unsuccessfully look for a giveaway. Then you start looking at any eyes without a cover. Maybe you can recognize some of them. Yes, it is the eyes.
You can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their eyes. Then you are unsure if this works the same way here. How much can eyes tell and how necessary is it really for them to tell if anything at all when someone’s face and body are almost completely concealed under a costume? You decide to stop being curious. People may detect your nervousness and avoid you. You finally act calmly and keep looking around.
No one can tell how you look, sound, or even smell like. Masked you can be anyone or anything you want. Your secrets and mysteries are safe here. This is your chance to be the real or totally different “you”, the one that you like and no one has ever known. Do you know how to be yourself? Have you ever tried or just thought about it? Now, you have the freedom to say and do things you normally don’t. You are protected. You can hide or reveal your personality. The masked costume gave you a new identity. You are in control.
You can talk to anyone about anything you want. You can confine in someone and open up your soul and share your thoughts like you have never done before. You realize that it is so much easier to confine in a completely total stranger than in someone you know.
You were thinking that wearing a mask it could be a good thing. It helped you let out emotions and feelings and discover things about yourself. “As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life.”(Fernando Pessoa) You are asking: what about later when I have to take off my mask? How much of all this will I be able to keep and how much will I be willing to let go away?
When we speak about masks in our lives we refer to them metaphorically like we all wear different masks when we are with our family, friends, and other people around us. Everyone has at least one mask. Some people wear so many masks that after a while they forget who they really are. We need masks because we have the tendency to conceal more than we reveal and deny more than we confess. We try to avoid being exposed.
A mask doesn’t hide us. A mask releases us from our real self. We are free to choose who and what we want to become. Many times we wonder: should I go on pretending or take off my mask and be who I really am? Wearing a mask is convenient because it makes us anonymous. It helps us expose our deepest most secrets. A mask disguises us subconsciously making us what we need to be.
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter