The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.
“The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious” (1928). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. C.G. Jung, P.305
Even if we are not on a masquerade party, or in a Halloween costume, we wear them. More often than we think, even. Each person we face, everyday, is talking to an aspect of you that cannot be seen by others. We act differently with our family, our colleagues, workmates, classmates and friends. Each one a side of you that you don’t often see.
But what happens at the end of the day, when you come home and lock yourself in the bedroom? What do you see when you look at the bathroom mirror? Do you see a tired person that is tired from smiling, or a content face that looks forward to tomorrow’s day? Masks are essential in dealing with others that sometimes we forget the true person behind that mask.
Superheroes wear masks because of this reason, a separate identity. Facing the world as a hero entails a responsibility, and then a disguise, to keep a part of his/herself private. Authors sometimes write in pseudonames, or initialize their first names. Some to avoid gender bias, some to avoid fan drama. A large majority of us have usernames in several websites, all of which protest our real identities. Celebrities, due to their highly public lifestyle, lose their sense of privacy and in some cases, it becomes very damaging to people that can’t handle that public identity. Masks must always be on, you’re not allowed to screw up. That’s the life.
We all do it, to some degree. And sometimes our masks become permanent, as a part of our identity if you wear it for too long. Then, your personality changes regardless of whether you have it on or off. As to the condition of it being a good thing or a bad thing, is your call entirely.
It is one of the greatest feelings in the world when you have people in your life you can trust to show what is behind your mask. People that you can be yourself around, without pretending to be happy or content. We are often afraid of what people think of us, and masks are a good way to protect yourself from such critique and ridicule. It is also, one of the best when a person you hold dear lowers their mask for you in trust that you will not harm them as they are.
It’s important to have time to take the mask off, and be yourself for a little while. Dance around even if you can’t. Laugh your head off from that cheesy comedy show that no one likes. Smile, for yourself, not for others.
How about you? What do you see in the mirror?