I wonder about the actual masks we wear because of this relentless COVID-19 virus and whether it is revealing or disclosing an underlying question about us as human beings. Who are we behind these masks, and who do we become with them?
Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The journey to self-discovery is one of seeking truth. Depending on where you are and with whom, you adjust yourself accordingly. This is usually evidenced in speech or body language changing to suit the context. Or as I explore it, a change to my personality.
I am beginning to understand that personality can be used like a tool, just like a specific key is used to enter a specific place. The key that I use when I enter work is not the same as the key I use at home. They unlock two different people.
In an online class I attended about gnosis, the instructor spoke of how personality is a psychological and energetic structure that only exists in time. I think about how attached I am to who I am, my personality, my sense of self and now I must acknowledge that this is just a tool that helps me to relate to the environment, to relate to life. That my personality is not a true reflection of who I really am. Then who am I?
When I’m sitting by my desk answering calls from customers about their unwarranted concerns as far as I am concerned, I evoke a compassion that is false to ease their “pain.” Is that personality at work? Is that a mask I put on?
When I am retweeting something that I don’t agree with because it is funny or trending, when I am sharing a status about something very personal or should be shared with a therapist, who is doing that? My personality or me?
On these digital shores, we have become accustomed to mirroring our ‘othering’ selves. We do not care how anyone really is. Feelings, true, genuine, and compassionate, are foreigners in the virtual world sometimes. It can feel like entering an ocean without knowing how to swim and realizing that everybody drowns here anyway. We have become like a sinking ship and forgotten that we are bodies of water.
The question ‘what’s on your mind?’ while updating a status sometimes it robs you of your true self. It can turn into a performance stage that lets you play with your personality. It gives you a tool to hurt others because it is in a virtual world and you are protected by the mask you choose to wear when you engage online.
These digital shores cannot unmask our tangible flaws. We protect ourselves by masking who we truly are and become anything we wish to be online. Being you is a crazy thought in this world we’ve created. Architects of our own destruction.
Has COVID-19 come with more than one lesson? Perhaps to ask what kind of material adorns your mask?
Who am I? Who are you?
Perhaps in continuing to seek, I will find out, and who I am will show me the ways of freedom. Of being and loving the parts of myself I work so hard to hide from the world. The parts of myself that sit behind my N95 mask. The parts of myself that take it off and say hi with a high pitched voice to hide the sadness beneath my smile.
Perhaps in seeking, I will learn that on the days when breathing feels like a test I am not prepared for, my room doesn’t have to turn into a mouth swallowing me whole. My lungs are reminding me of the questions. My body is the life raft whispering light and ease into my being.
Perhaps in seeking I will learn to wear myself unmasked.