It’s the age old question…”who am I?” I’ve talked to so many women who have expressed concern and dismay over the feeling of having “lost” themselves. I’ve definitely struggled with it a time or two. Heck, I think we lose and find ourselves hundreds of times over during the course of a lifetime as we grow and change and life takes us in different directions. If you feel like you’ve lost yourself somewhere in the midst of marriage, maturing, babies, new careers, well meaning loved ones attempting to “help” you figure out who you are, and life event after life event, you’re so not alone!
We learn to hide behind masks that make things easy or keep us from being vulnerable with our true faces out there in the open for the world to see and critique. I think it happens for many different reasons, but here are a few of the most obvious to me:
1. Sometimes it’s because we’ve simply grown or changed and need to accept our new and improved version. Not that I’m trying to compare human beings to fancy technological devices…but you know what I mean, right? We just haven’t paid much attention to what’s happening until we find ourselves in the middle of a life that we didn’t anticipate, new life experiences have changed us in some way, or challenges have helped us to grow and develop in new and different directions. None of these are bad things. They’re just…different. We’re not necessarily hiding from something, we just haven’t taken the time to figure out who we’ve become.
2. Another reason could be that someone has been chipping away at us. Sometimes it’s critics who have their own selfish reasons for tearing us down, but more often then not, it’s actually people who love us dearly who do the most damage. They’re trying to “help” and the last thing they mean to do is harm. It’s a natural human instinct to want people to be more like us, or who we think they should be. It’s called the Pygmalion project, which comes from the Greek legend of a sculptor named Pygmalion who couldn’t find a single woman in Cyprus who fit his criteria. He set about to sculpt the perfect woman and labored obsessively and tirelessly until he had created his ideal woman…a perfect woman. He fell in love with her at first, but soon realized that she was a lifeless body that could never return his love or meet his needs. We have to be careful not to give into the temptation to chisel away at our loved ones. In attempting to make someone more or less of something, so that they better fit into the molds of who we think they should be, we risk chipping away at the true essence of who they are…what makes them unique and what we love about them in the first place. It’s so wrong. Women are very susceptible to this type of “chiseling.” We put the needs of others above our own and we naturally crave harmony in our relationships and lives. These great qualities can leave us vulnerable if we don’t have a firm sense of who we are and guard against the things that can chip away at us over time.
3. Lastly, sometimes it’s just our own dang fault. In pursuit of “who we are” we try on so many masks that we can’t even remember who’s behind them anymore. We work so hard to become something that we forget to focus on being someone. We doubt our own worth, so we try to copy others, and we just look silly doing it. I once decided I was going to try the hardcore sporty/athletic look (Think of Sporty Spice in her glory days). Although I can rock my Lululemon yoga fashion any day of the week, I just looked ridiculous in baggy warm-up suits and high-tops! (Do they even call them “high-tops” anymore?) On a serious note, It’s not really about how we dress. We hide our true and best qualities under masks because we either haven’t taken the time to get to know who we really are, or we just aren’t comfortable in our own skin…yet.
If any of these descriptions sound familiar, don’t lose hope. Most importantly, don’t give up on figuring yourself out! You were created to play a very important role in this life. Shrinking from your true self and hiding your unique qualities and talents serves no one.
Awareness is the first step in solving any problem. If you know you’ve lost yourself somewhere along the way, keep searching. You’ll figure it out!
What masks do you hide behind? Do you feel that you truly know yourself? I look forward to talking with you in the comments below!
P.S. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen here so far, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE in the column to the right of this post so that you don’t miss anything!