When I woke up this morning, the last fluttering thought from my subconscious was Make Peace With Masks. It was something in a dream. Something I was supposed to remember. I scribbled it in my journal, then fed the dog.
Then came today’s Quest2017 prompt from Kristen Noel:
Where are you going to go deeper this year, where can you be brave enough to bring forth even more of yourself — to infuse your work, creativity and business with that which is uniquely YOU, thus inspiring others to do more of the same? What could that look like in 2017 for you?
I’m happily resting in the complex place between that last dream-thought from this morning’s snooze alarms, and this question. To me, there’s an answer between them. A big one.
Authenticity – doing things and saying things that have internal consistency between thought, faith and feeling – this is a deep, ongoing urge of mine. Until this morning, I have thought of authenticity and masks as antithetical. Right now, as I make my breakfast and think about what to wear to work today, I can live in the idea that maybe they are not.
I’ve written before about protecting new creative ideas – about the process of keeping ideas safe from my inner critic and from outside influence until they are strong enough to stand alone. When I want to share these ideas, I only want to share them with the people who have well-tended, tender ideas of their own. This is not a matter of masks, or personae, but one of boundaries.
There is a part of me that wants to blah blah blah blah everything to everyone. That lacks self-control and good judgement. For a long time, I gave her reign because I thought that this meant I was being honest – I was being authentic. And it’s true, I was being authentic. I was also lacking finesse. I was a TMI-machine, and living up to my Appalachian Trail trailname, I was a Tank. I had no boundaries.
I thought that meant I wore no masks.
Ha ha ha hahahaha
The prompt this morning is about creating space. It’s a challenge to infuse my world with more of that authentic self, and how I can do that. To an extent, I think the answer rests in making peace with masks. It means doing some hard work:
- Acknowledging that I still wear masks, and that’s okay.
- Dispelling my inner lie that blurting things without boundaries is more “authentic”
- Reframing and renaming those things I call masks
How does this work help me infuse my endeavors with what is uniquely me?
The metaphor that pops into my mind is my 970 sq ft house. When friends come over, they tend to end up sitting with us at the dining room table. It does not make me a bad hostess that I don’t invite them into the bedroom. It doesn’t make me a bad hostess if sometimes, I even shut the door to the bedroom to suggest that this is not a space for them.
Is it a mask to shut the bedroom door? My bed is made, it’s not that messy a room. I don’t have anything to hide. So why close the door? Because it is my space. Because it is the corner where I curl up with a cat and a book. Because it’s the inner sanctum of my introverted world. Because that space is worth protecting.
This is where the task of reframing and renaming comes in. Until today, I’d have probably considered that kind of self-protection, this curation of a sanctuary space, as a mask. It’s not. It’s a boundary.
These kinds of boundaries are necessary and vital to the creative process.
By allowing myself this space – mental, metaphoric, and physical – I’m able to dig deeper, experiment more, and wander farther. If I go to those unseen realms, I’m bound to bring something back to share with the world.
What will this look like for me in 2017?
Giving myself permission to create an inner circle of trusted creators and thinkers to share the crazy, nascent ideas with.
Flexing my boundary muscles more.
Noticing places where I still think of “masks” as a bad thing, and reframing and reusing those perceptions.
There’s more here. Something tells me the quest will unearth so much more in this regard. Stay tuned.