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How Many Masks Do You Wear?

During my first year of teaching, my principal observed me interacting with students in the hallway. Later, he told me that I was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because one second I would be sternly correcting a student’s behavior and the next I would be engaging another student in friendly conversation. I took this as a compliment since as an educator, I should not take out my frustrations with one student on another. Over the years, I became a master of wearing masks with students, parents, and co-workers so that I could spare feelings and maintain positive relationships. They never knew how mad, angry, frustrated, or disappointed I was by their behavior because it would only make the situation harder.

Now as I reflect back on my life, I realize that it became normal for me to maintain those masks with most people in my life. They never really saw the true me. . . only the one I wanted them to see. And, it was exhausting. Often times, I would retreat to my office, the bathroom, or my car and just let my shoulders sink from the weight of those masks. My head would hang down while I felt a burden lifted as I let go. However, all too soon, I had to pull back those shoulders, adjust my masks, and return to reality.

I no longer have to present so many different faces now that I am retired. For the most part, people see the true me. However, if I am being honest, I will still slip-on masks at times because I do not feel the need to let everyone know what I truly think at all times. Life is easier that way.

How many masks do you wear? Do you feel the weight from the multiple masks you have to wear? Or, have you learned to let others see the true you?

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