“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
Halloween is next week, a holiday for wearing masks, and there is a variety of masks for different characters. When I was a child, I thought the Frankenstein mask was the scariest. As an adult, the Phantom of the Opera mask was my favorite. This Halloween is different because we have already been wearing masks for several months to protect us from COVID. I have acquired a few different masks. I started out with the plain N95 mask, but later I purchased different color masks to match my outfit, and my favorite is my mask with cat whiskers.
We are all wearing masks to protect us from COVID, but I’m aware of another “mask” that we wear to hide our true self that protects from us from being vulnerable.
In Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she says that people have told her vulnerability feels like “Taking off the mask and hoping the real me isn’t too disappointing.” Examples of protective “mask”:
• Not being truthful to a friend or partner that something is bothering me • Not sharing my true feelings and interests with others; hence, they don’t get to know the real me • Not sharing my accomplishments or positive things about myself for fear looking like a braggart
For me, I’ve used the “mask” of shyness to avoid criticism or rejection. When I first joined Toastmasters in 1992, I attended several meetings before I had the courage to participate in table topics. The first time I spoke, I held onto the lectern because I thought my knees would buckle. With the encouragement of my fellow Toastmasters, I kept doing speeches and practicing until I became more comfortable. It paid off to let myself be vulnerable.
When I decided to become an Animal Minister, I was reluctant to share it with others because some people would think the idea was crazy. But I realized, so what? I knew it was something that would give me fulfillment and provide a service to fellow animal lovers. There is no magical solution to overcoming fear. Just do it. There was a book by Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The rewards of stepping out of my comfort zone far exceed anyone’s disapproval.
When you celebrate Halloween, have fun with your costume, keep a physical distance, and chose a festive mask. Wear a mask to protect your health but take off the invisible mask and reveal your true self! As Marianne Williams said, “let your light shine,” and allow others to do the same!
Emerson said, in his essay Self-Reliance, “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”
It takes more energy to trying to be someone I’m not, just to impress people.
Affirmation: I open my heart and share who I am.
Rev. Kathy Lyons