A Halloween reminder about the importance of being our authentic selves.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” -Brené Brown
Remember those masks we used to wear on Halloween?
No, not the modern masks my children grew up wearing. I’m referring to the old-school, far cheaper, far more dangerous ones; the ones that scratched our faces with dangerously jagged edges, had eye cutouts that never actually matched our eyes, and a rubber band so cheaply fastened to the mask that after just three houses, the band would break and we’d spend the rest of the night holding a bag of candy in one hand and our mask in the other.
Remember THOSE masks?
This time of year, masks are mainstream for kids and adults alike. Halloween gives us an excuse to lean into childlike playfulness, get dressed up for a night and be someone radically different than we typically are.
I love Halloween. And I love getting dressed up for it.
But for many of us, masking our true selves isn’t reserved for once a year. For many, it’s Halloween all the time.
In trying to fit in, we mold our words, go along with things we disagree with and pretend to be who we’re not.
In hoping to be somehow more worthy of being accepted, we cake on makeup less to amplify our natural beauty and more to hide perceived imperfections.
In pursing success, we stay so busy and run so fast that we avoid letting others see our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our scars.
We strive not to become the best version of ourselves, but to become worthy in the eyes and opinions of others.
And yet in the end, we still feel too fat or skinny, too old or young, too accomplished or marginalized, too connected or broken. Someone else always has a better house, better family, better job, better physique, better life.
I spent decades wearing various masks, trying to measure up and fit in. Always joking, always partying, always busy, and finding myself too frequently feigning confidence, quietly struggling, and often longing for something more.
And in that time, I found that joking often masks pain. Anger masks fear. Addiction masks longing. Arrogance masks insecurities. Busyness masks meaninglessness.
Removing the mask of inauthenticity, however, liberated me to fully embrace who I am, whose I’m am, why I’m here, and what matters most.
Tomorrow night, the streets will be packed with kids wearing costumes, gleefully filling buckets with candy, racing through neighborhoods. We have a wonderful excuse to get dressed up, act like a kid, give out candy, sit around firepits, visit with friends, have a couple drinks and toast life.
But as the last visitor departs, the firepit is extinguished, and the candy is sorted, let’s agree to put away the masks along with the rest of the costumes until next year.
Rather than losing the comparison game by attempting to measure up to someone else, let’s consider a far better comparison. Let’s compare ourselves each day with who we were and who we could become.
And let’s strive each day to become the best, most authentic versions of ourselves.
Today is your day.