The Real You

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.

mask

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.

Photo from misteraitch

Comments

  1. Fewer masks definitely is better for the soul. A friend just commented to me yesterday that “hiding is tiring”, and it's so true.

    I can't imagine you have too many masks left – you come across as so authentic. If I had to guess, I'd say you have one small one you use at work, and another on Twitter, and I say that merely because you never seem down at all. Never sad. Never unhappy. But who knows, maybe you are like that IRL. That would be awesome if so!

    Great post, Brett. Thank you.

  2. As somebody that can “adapt” very well to different social situations, one of the unfortunate outcomes of the multiple mask syndrome is that by failing to expose who you truly are, you run the risk of not actually connecting with those you meet in social circles.

    I learned this in high school where I could wear enough masks to be part of various different social circles, but consequently I was merely considered an acquaintance of each circle. While this is nice for toeing the line, it's not very good for actually developing relationships.

    Reducing the masks increases the ability to which you can connect with people. When you wear a mask, that's all people see and there's only so long you can keep the mask on.

  3. That's a good phrase, “hiding is tiring” and true. I think it's been easier to be myself on my blog because nobody read it when I started. :-) Thanks for the great comment.

  4. Wow, you said that a lot better than I could. There have been times where I felt I could fit into most social situations but I wonder if I'm getting worse now that I feel I can be myself more often? For example, speaking my mind at work has got me in hot water a number of times. When I was starting out my career, I would have gone along with whatever came down from above. Thanks for the comment, Damon.

  5. Thanks, Brett – definitely in very similar territory. I'm getting to the point where if I don't speak my mind, I feel as if I'm doing myself a disservice. I'm generally an agreeable guy, but if I feel the need to speak up, then there's a definite reason for it, consequences be damned. I wasn't always like that, but with the right balance it's definitely useful.

  6. grandmahenke says:

    This is an interesting blog, Brett. I enjoyed talking to you about it last night. It is always insightful. I think there is one area we didn't talk about that should be mentioned, particularly where blogs are involved. It is very easy to wear a mask as a blogger. No one is around to actually see the actual person.. On the Internet people can pretty much come across as an different persona if they want to. It seems to me it would be easier on the Internet than anywhere else. If we try to be an honest blogger (hence, mask free) I think we continually check ourselves to make sure we don't do that because it can be like the “Christmas card brag letter syndrome” and make people feel insecure when they only see the achievements and not the trials that led to them.

    Good grief … way side tracked from what your blog was all about … I better get back to my housework!

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