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Behind the Mask - How To Find The Person Who You Truly Are

Updated on June 20, 2013

You wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed bleary eyed. Get to the bathroom or dressing table and robotically apply your make-up. It's become a daily ritual. You cover up the flaws, the blemishes, the dark circles under the eyes. You paint your skin with beige liquid and powder, dust your cheeks with splashes of pink, and glue your eyelashes with thick black liquid. You stare into the mirror, barely recognizing the person who's staring back at you.

Does this sound like you? I personally can't imagine going to work or setting foot outside of the house without a drop of make-up on.

Why is that though?

Are we ashamed of who we are? Are we trying to be someone "good enough" for everyone else out there? Do we do it to please our partners? Is it what's expected of us?

Split Personalities

Putting aside the physical aspect, how else do we hide who we truly are every day? I'm a different person at work, than to what I am at home with my husband or close friends.

Why are we like this? Do we build up walls to protect ourselves and not let other people see who we truly are, or are we being the type of person that we're simply expected to be?

It must become quite exhausting. Having to put on your mask every day, to be someone that isn't really you, and then come home again and wipe off the mask - only to repeat the same ritual again the next day.

For me personally, it's hard to change who I am in the workplace. I've always been the "good girl" from my early school days. I almost never did anything wrong, and when I did - it was received with absolute shock and horror from teachers, my parents and even a few employers. What was wrong with me? I'm supposed to set an example, to be someone that others can look up to, I was told. Talk about pressure.

One day stands out and I'll never forget it. I was about 13 years old. I was a prefect in primary school and I'd forgotten to do my Science homework. I was singled out in front of the whole class, and called into a detention to complete the assignment. My friends were shocked, the teacher couldn't understand what was happening, and I was left feeling humiliated and feeling rather "stupid". Looking back today though, I almost want to laugh about the whole event. That was me, behind the mask - just being a normal teenage girl who really wasn't interested in learning about nitrogen or liquids and gasses. I just wanted to draw. It probably wasn't a good idea to do this and get caught out in Biology class either - but, hey - I was a typical teenager, just hiding behind my mask.

Who are you behind that mask you put on everyday?
Who are you behind that mask you put on everyday? | Source

Peeling or Ripping Off The Mask

This year a lot has changed for me. I've decided to start living in the moment more, to not take life so seriously and to really enjoy the beauty of the world we live in. I go for a walk in the nature reserve or walk on the beach instead of spending the afternoon watching mind-numbing reality TV shows like I used to. I've realized what I want to do with my life, and am working towards making this dream happen - regardless of those few that painstakingly try to poke holes in my dream because they're angry with their own lives.

I've realized that life is just too damn short to care what other people think about you. Why would you want to live your life to make other people happy by being who they expect you to be?

Your life is YOUR own, no one elses.

I'm a good girl, sure. But I like to wear purple nail-polish too. I also like to go dancing until 3am occasionally. I like to let loose and have fun once in a while and not be the person that a lot of people expect me to be - the real me has been hidden for far too long now.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that YOU decide when and how you want to get rid of the mask. Do you want to peel it off layer by layer, or do you want to rip it off in one quick motion like a band aid?

This year (2012), I've decided I'm going to remove my mask - layer by layer. I've started doing this at work. Slowly letting down a few of my walls and letting my true personality come out. Making an inappropriate joke, having an out-of-character comment - just being me, but in small doses. It's not easy after years and years of being who people expect you to be. And, a part of that is really me. But that's not all of me, and I no longer choose to be only that. If other people don't like it, then that's their problem.

Who are YOU?
Who are YOU? | Source

Helpful Tips to Discovering the Real YOU

Take Your Time

When you discover the truth about who you really are, don't be afraid and don't think that you need to act on it right then and there. Take your time. You decide when you're ready to start being who you really are, even if it's only a little at a time, in a few years time, or not at all. The decision is yours alone.

Stop, Breathe, Relax

When you're in a situation and you are automatically about to react or act the way you normally would, but you know that's not who you are - not who you want to be. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Think. How would the real you handle this situation? How do you WANT to handle the situation? For me, it's a daily practice. I used to stress about the smallest of things and get into a panic very quickly. Now, I take my time and react the way I want to react - calmly. If things aren't perfect, then they're just not perfect. Life's too short to worry about silly things like perfection.

Heart vs Head

On many occasions we need to make decisions based on what our head is telling us. For example, we may decide to take that boring office job because it pays more, and it's expected as opposed to working part time, earning a bit less and following a true passion. Of course there are things to weigh up and consider with your head, but don't let that be your deciding factor. Life is short, let your heart lead and the rest will follow.

Let Nature Guide You

This is my number one tip. If you're feeling lost, and you don't know who you are or where you're going, what you're meant to be doing with your life - get lost in nature. When we went on holiday earlier this year, we spent a lot of time walking in forests. For me, this was my eye-opening moment. I felt connected to the trees in a weird way, I was in awe of how green the leaves were, the clear sounds I could hear of frogs and birds, and how the earth smelled. I knew then that what I was doing wasn't where I saw my life going. I glanced into my future, saw what I wanted - a dream I'd had for months, and decided that in order to fulfil that dream, I needed a PLAN OF ACTION. Whether you're on the beach by yourself, walking through a forest or nature reserve, or even outside in your garden, let yourself imagine what you want to become. Free your mind and realize that things are possible. You just need a dream and a plan of action to get there.

More Hubs on Finding Happiness


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      really a great message dear being real always keeps and makes us real and unique and the way you explained about mask and to take that out was so well said some times at different situations i mask and i hide to express my own thought about a particular happening or something know clearly i came to know i had to be me entirely and there after i'll surely nd openly express at wat u do think and feel never thinking what ppl would thinks thanks for such a wonderful message dear keep giving us great messages like tis.. :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thank you Shruti! Yes, that's a good way of looking at masks....they are our own creation. We choose when to put them on, and when to take them off.

      I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub, have a great day :)

    • shruti sheshadri profile image

      shruti sheshadri 

      6 years ago from Bangalore, India

      So true! all of us live behind these masks , our own creations. They are useful at times but in the long run, they tend to become hazardous.

      a great choice of topic. I like the way you think:)

      voted up, and shared :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thank you Lightshare! :)

    • Lightshare profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful hub MelChi..

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi James - thank you for your kind words and feedback, it's always great to hear from you. Have a fantastic day :)

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 

      7 years ago

      Beautiful hub MelChi and the words were inspiring in an enriching way. I loved the line ''Let your heart lead and the rest will follow.'' This is very truthful advice and I thank you for sharing your story with us. Voted up, beautiful, useful, awesome, and interesting :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Aubrey - Hehe, I like your comparison to superheroes - very true! It's very hard for some people, even some days for me - it's so easy to stay behind the mask, to keep who I am hidden, but then I ask myself, "what for?" This is my life, and I'm living it for me - not to please anyone else! Thanks for commenting :)

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      AE Williams 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Very uplifting hub, Melchi. It's really good that you want people to be happy with who they are. It's hard for everyone to really remove the mask and reveal their true identities. Perhaps superheroes are the most vulnerable? They always wear masks. I never really thought of it that way. But now I have. Thanks for the great piece of writing!


    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @Redberry Sky - Thanks for your feedback! :) There is only one of us out there in the entire world of over 7 billion people! We should embrace who we are, and be proud of it!

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 

      7 years ago

      You're right, Mel, life IS too short for the flim-flam of trying to be someone we're not and live up to other people's visions of who we should be. And besides ... if we're not ourselves, who exactly are we going to be...!? Cool Hub, and absolutely spot-on.

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Martie - thanks for your kind feedback. That's a very good way of looking at it, our True-Self and our Self-Image need time to become one. Thanks for sharing this :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Great article MelChi. We tend to wear masks while our True-Self is not yet as 'perfect' as our Self-Image. It takes time for both 'characters' to become ONE.

      Voted up, informative and encouraging :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @Mhatter99 - Sad words, but your poetry is beautiful nonetheless. Thanks for reading :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @yeagerinvestments - I think it's human intuition to want to protect ourselves and put a mask on in some situations. I'm sure for me - there will still be a couple of those, maybe for you too. But I think as long as we're true to who we are most of the time and living life how we want to (and not how others think we should) - then I don't think we need to worry! No one is perfect, it's a daily practice. Thanks for your comment, appreciate it :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @dotty1 - Life is indeed what we make of it and far too short for worrying about who people perceive us to be! Thanks for reading :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @lovedoctor926 - You've brought up some really good points, and I have to say that I tend to agree with most of what you're saying about the mask in the work environment. Then again, there will always be malicious people out there trying to throw you under the bus - that's the sad reality of some people's life ambition. There are some people at work that unfortunately only see their best interests, and will do whatever it takes to get to the top - even if it means using what you've told them in confidence against you. Hard lesson that I've learnt this year. So, I agree with what you're saying there. You need to know when to draw the line and just who you choose to see behind your mask.

      I think as long as we don't spend too much time hiding who we really are from more than a few people (for obvious reasons such as the work example), and let who we really are shine and take the weight off our shoulders - we can have some sort of a balance.

      I love the quote you've added, it is so true and it's one of my favourite sayings.

      Thanks for sharing your point of view, I definitely think it's something people need to consider as well - but I think the focus should really be on being who we really are. Maybe it's time to change that unpleasant environment where you aren't able to let down all your walls? I respect where you're coming from, for I too have been there and it's anything but pleasant.

      Thanks for your comments, very much appreciated!! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @billybuc - Thanks!! :) Goodbye to heavy weight on shoulders and hello to liberation! It's great to finally discover who you are, for me it's a daily practice - but it's worth it. No longer trying to be someone who I'm not (or not completely anyway) is like a breath of fresh air.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      As the world slowly slips away, I close my eyes to me...

    • yeagerinvestments profile image

      Shawn Yeager 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great hub. I do my best to make sure my true self shows in every situation, however I fail most of the time.

    • dotty1 profile image


      7 years ago from In my world

      Really fantastic stuff, you are very riht - life indeed is too short ...wonderful :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent hub! I like the introduction of this article because you show rather than tell. The questions here are very thought-provoking. I'm going to be honest with you. I've always been a very transparent person since I don't have anything to hide, but I've learned that this is not the best approach. Sometimes those people who you thought you could trust and who had your back turn out to be backstabbers.

      I can relate to this article very much. I have often been called a goody two shoes by many people. Some of my critics have told me that I am selfish and that I think I am all that just because I am value-ridden. At this point in my life, I couldn't care less what others think, which is why I don't have too many friends and I keep people at a distance.

      I agree with the quote,"Be who you are and say what you do because those who matter won't mind and those who mind don't matter."

      I think the mask serves well and there are times that we must keep it on in order to shield us from other people who don't have our best interest at heart. As you get to know someone, you can start peeling it off little by little. It's hard to trust people these days because they all have their own agendas. I have also learned not to share or interact with anyone about my personal life or career goals with anyone at work. It's just none of their business. These are situations where the mask must stay on. When interacting with people online, you also want to proceed with caution and not share too much personal information with anyone.

      Voted up awesome!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great message! I lived so many years behind a mask. I can't begin to tell you how liberating it is to no longer do that. Wonderful hub my friend.


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