This goes without saying but, it’s COLD! And I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold. Still, the predicted negative 12 degrees F for a high one day in the week ahead is truly cold! I went for a walk over the weekend to check out the ice formations along Lake Michigan. To prepare for heading outside, I wore fleece lined jeans, snow boots, many layers of clothing, a long down jacket, a hat, a combo hat/ scarf over the regular hat, and a face mask. My husband was mildly entertained by how much I covered up, but my face was warm! When you wear that much clothing, the only things showing are your eyes.
We passed a fourth grade student and his mom walking by on the sidewalk and I had to pull the face mask down for them to recognize me when I said hello. Of course, I could have just as easily walked right by without removing the mask and remained incognito. In fact, earlier this week I was talking with someone who told me that he really loved winter precisely because he could cover up in this way and walk through Evanston undetected, whereas other times of the year he could not be inconspicuous because he is well-known locally. This got me to thinking about how often we wear masks, either physical masks or masks of persona to protect us from other people. A physical mask can take the form of the clothes we wear, the cars we drive or making various brand choices to align ourselves with an image or social class that we want to be associated with. A persona could range from presenting ourselves as someone who has a “perfect life,” as our Instagram world has greatly facilitated. It could also be presenting ourselves as “the funny one,” “the smart one,” “the handsome one,” or some other such mask, when it is used to cover up our own insecurities.
Masks are worn by most everyone at times, however, they prevent us from expressing vulnerability and authenticity that allows us to truly connect as human beings. It is a learned behavior that begins at a young age. However, if we can become attuned to our mask-wearing as parents, we can model vulnerability and authenticity for our children to help them do the same. It takes courage sometimes to be your true self. By braving the elements and letting our true selves shine, we are better equipped to reach our true potential to become all that we are meant to be and all that we are here to do.