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Putting On Masks

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland


“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland

Unless you’re Nicole Kidman, most people think they are better actors then they are. If you are wearing a mask, trying to be someone you’re not, it’s a good bet that people see right through the mask. This is especially true if you are pretending to be happy or strong all of the time. People know this isn’t the case. They can tell you’re being inauthentic. If you are being fake, even when you believe it serves a purpose, consider that you’re often doing yourself a disservice. You could be pushing people away.


It’s time to take off the mask and let the world see the real you!


Why are we talking about masks? Because it’s Halloween—the time we get to actually pretend to be something we’re not. It’s one time each year you get to dress up, have FUN with costumes and masks and be what you want to be. It’s a day when we’re encouraged to wear masks.


However, some people wear masks the other 364 days a year too. These people are putting on a face, pretending to be something they’re not – and perhaps worse - maybe pretending to be something they think you want them to be.


We all know someone who can’t seem to show up authentically. Perhaps they’re pretending to be happy or strong because they think people want them or need them to be that way. Maybe they’re pretending to be effective at work, happy in their marriage, healthier than they really are, knowledgeable on many topics, or someone who cares what you think and feel.


There are many reasons people hide behind their true selves. Sometimes people put on a mask because they don’t want other people to really know them. This allows them to put a up a wall, a boundary, to keep other people at a distance.


Other masks are situational. For example, you might try to keep your emotions together at a funeral. Or you might present yourself as more confident than you feel during a job interview. These masks aren’t as detrimental as the ones you wear every day. These are temporary and serve a purpose. It’s the constant masks people wear all of the time that are problematic. When we "act" in a way that isn’t who we truly are, the mask can become an unconscious habit.


Does this sound like someone you know? Does this sound like YOU? If you’re pretending to be someone or something you’re not, you’re not being your authentic self. You’re not allowing people to know the real you.


I’ve experienced this firsthand. I’ve worn a mask. I had to show up for work wearing my “I’m strong” mask when I was sick. I literally wore a wig and false eyelashes so I could look the part of healthy, happy employee. I was grateful to get to take the mask off at the end of each day and then finally when I was well.


At varying times, I tried to be a dedicated and good employee but meanwhile I was miserable. The mask didn’t serve me at ALL. I found it unbearable to fake it; therefore, took the steps needed to secure other opportunities – and QUIT once I accepted an offer. I’ve not had to wear that mask in years!


If you’re faking it or wearing a mask - take a pause to reflect on your situation, you may realize it’s not working for you. Ask yourself, “Who am I being? Why am I making the choice to behave this way? How do I want to show up?"


Is it time to remove the mask and live your life authentically? Here’s how to do it.


1. Give yourself permission to listen to your heart. To understand who you want to be today, without getting hung up on the past or worrying about the future.


2. Be honest and get real with yourself. Get in touch with yourself.


3. Visualize the outcome of your life without masks. Get a clear image of what it would look like to be self-expressed, to be authentic every day— not just in certain situations.

4. Choose to move on from the past and the mask you’ve worn. It’s time to stop.


5. Get in action. Practice being yourself.


6. Find an accountability partner. Tell someone how you want to show up, what your authentic self really looks like. A coach can help you with this.


7. If you fall off track and put the mask back on, acknowledge it, regroup, and start over.

Rediscovering your authentic self is a process; this doesn’t happen overnight. You might have spent years faking it and even getting rewards for it—much like getting candy on Halloween for wearing a mask! It will take time to change behaviors that no longer serve you and to create new habits. You can do this!



“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

I might wear a mask on Halloween, but I will always be me!

When wanting to powerfully move through and embrace change, contact me at www.paulaconkey.com or paula@paulaconkey.com.

I'll partner with you so that you transition through change with grace, mindfulness, and intent.

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