Has it occurred to you that, you may not exactly know the people you hold the dearest to yourself as well as you thought you did? I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me during our third date, “You will never know anyone, not fully.” At the time I got defensive, and took complete offensive to his statement. It made me think, surely if you’ve known someone for all your life or even a long period of time, you must know them inside out? It will be embarrassing not to? Right? Well, wrong. It took me a long time to realise, and I cannot argue this enough, fully realise we do not know anyone at all, not even our dearest ones. The most heart-breaking part of it is that we never really will.
The Japanese have a proverb which will tell you that people have three masks they wear within their life, sometimes the mask is translated to faces. We have three masks or faces we put on throughout our lives. The first one is the one we show the world, and everyone around us, almost a face in our most perfect form. The second is the face we show to the people closest to us, our loved ones, family, friends. Finally, the third face we dare not show anyone. A face where no one is worthy of seeing and knowing. It is us in our rawest form.
Following this line of thought, these faces or masks are all us, different versions, but still us. The first as I mentioned before is the most perfect, likeable face we portray to the world. We can almost argue that it is also the fakest version. When you think about it, if everyone in the world was to portray only their first face to the world, does that not mean no one has had the courage to show their real face to the world? We can sometimes be conditioned to impress, be likeable, and be forced to be somebody they are simply not.
With the second face, we believe and trust, thus show a small glimpse of us to our close ones. We like to think they care about us and therefore allow them to stick by us when we have fallen.
However, these faces the Japanese talk about, for the third mask, is in fact the voice in our head. It is that voice which no one will ever have the privilege to hear, only us. It is us, authentic and Real. This alone, tell us that we never really know what that voice in someone else’s head is saying. They could be plotting a murder for all we know. Unless you possess the power to read minds, you, as much as you wish otherwise, do not know the people around, not fully.
We are all guilty of putting on a mask every day. Pretending to be that perfect person the world expects us to be. Sometimes, living with the consequences of being authentic can be heavy. Contrary to popular opinion I believe it is an emotional labour to be yourself, showing who you really are to the world. It’s tiring more so than pretending to be someone you’re not. The fear of not being liked once you open yourself, feeling exposed and vulnerable. That is why the first and fakest mask we put on every morning when we stare into our bathroom mirrors with a smile is not an option, but rather a must. We trip, fall, rise, get stuck in limbo every single day. We pass obstacles, we fail them. We are human, yes, but we are also a warrior, a soldier, a fighter. Just like a warrior puts on their armour to face a battle, we put on our masks to face the world.