I spoke at my Toastmaster’s Club Monday night.  I enjoyed it and so did the audience.  I’m passionate about the subject, and the story had a unique twist to it, but I believe the reason the audience appreciated my talk was because I shared a part of myself.  It always means more when I uncover the deep things of my heart.

Still, we all have a mask……….a brilliant disguise that we’ve created for others to see.  A lot of times it’s needed and serves us well. 

When I interviewed for my current job, I pretended to be confident as I discussed the position and answered their questions.  What the interviewers didn’t know:  I was intimidated and nervous.  I was surprised when they offered me the job.  My act of self-assurance helped me get it.         

We wear our disguises often.  We think we need them.  We believe if others knew our past, our thoughts and quirks, odd habits and fixations, our tendencies and dark addictions that they would stop liking us, ignore us, or worse, avoid us.  However, genuine relationships require that we reveal our true identity.    

An intimate marriage can’t happen with a brilliant disguise; close friendships either.   The façade affects our parenting and frustrates our children.  Our kids, especially teenagers, want the real deal. 

The disguise makes us unapproachable and guarded.  We become judgmental because we forget who we are.  The disguises, no matter how brilliant, may protect us from harm some of the time, but will hinder love most of the time.   

But when I discard the disguise wonderful things happens.  People connect with the authenticity and see something familiar.  Some of our fears are lifted.   I recognize that I am not the only one with that past or those thoughts.  My strange ways aren’t so unusual and my weaknesses are quite common.  We all feel less lonely which makes us more willing to take the mask off again.

Wear your mask for your next presentation at work.  Take it off when your teenager asks if you’ve ever made a bad decision, when your friend calls to tell you some bad news, or you notice a co-worker with tears in her eyes.   And try not to put it back on.  

Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.
Judy Garland