What brings out the real you?
A better question to ask might be what situations hide the real you?
I believe I’m just beginning to understand. For most of my life I’ve tried to be the person others expected me to be.
I’m reminded of the time our baseball team voted on team captains for the coming year. My father was the coach of our team and was disappointed when I wasn’t voted to be one of the two captains. But what upset him more was that I didn’t care. Not only did I not care, but I didn’t want to be one of the captains.
At the time, I thought to myself, “If my dad only knew the real me”.
But it wasn’t easy to show the real me. And I felt I had to take on a number of different personalities given the situation and those I was speaking to. It was as if I had a wall full of masks to choose from. I had a mask my parents wanted to see. Another one I wore to school and church. Still others I wore around friends and girls. One for every occasion.
When I stepped foot into the MTC, I was given another mask to wear, and it was the same mask the other 2000 missionaries wore. That one never fit very well. But this was the first time I began to wonder if all these masks were causing more trouble than they were worth. I began to wonder if I had been called to Germany based on my real personality – both good and bad traits – instead of some fake persona others wanted me to be?
I spent the first half of my mission trying to be the missionary others wanted me to be. Funny how I had little success until the second half when I allowed myself to be me around those I taught. I stopped trying to be perfect. I began to feel more comfortable being me. But it took a while.
How many different masks do you wear?
Whatever the number might be, it’s far fewer today than it used to be for me, and that’s due, in large part, to having children. Kids tend to bring out the real me, and I can’t imagine giving them anything else.
I’m convinced that the fewer masks you wear the happier you are. It’s miserable to be one person at home and another at work. I fell into that trap for many years. It eventually breaks down, and the best one can hope for is a chance at a new career. Worst case is that you ruin your marriage.
It’s not easy to be the real me around everyone. This blog has helped me open up to my parents and friends who probably see me in a different light than the person they thought I was. I’m sure I’ve disappointed a few of them, but I’d rather get to know someone and their flaws than have them put on a mask around me.