I love Andrew Lloyd Weber’s, Phantom of the Opera, and this is one of my favorite moments of the production. Beside the epic choreography, the scene—the lyrics—are so relatable. ♫Look around. There’s another mask behind you♫ We’ve all known people who wear a mask whenever they are in public.
Most people aren’t as obvious as the Mayor from Halloween Town, but if we look really, really close, we might be more aware of when their head spins between a frowny face and a smiling face.
We also know people like the queen bee at school who compliments your skirt – to your face.
But you know what? We all have to wear a mask at one point or another. When you run into an ex co-worker at the pizza shop one night and she asks how it’s going. Are you really going to tell her your husband’s business failed, your oldest kid got busted for shoplifting, and you can’t find a job for more than $13/hour? No. You’re going to paste on the Mayor’s smile and say, “Fine! Everything is fine. You?”
The important thing is to know when to wear a mask and when not to. It can be far too easy to simply wear one constantly. But we need time in our lives without our masks in order to make connections. To live. To learn. To love.
To live: Imagine you talked your way into a job above your skill level by alluding that you had the proper experience. As you settle into your new job at the higher pay, you go out and buy a new car, maybe rent a larger apartment, because you’ve hit the big time. But each day you run into situations you aren’t actually able to handle. Since you wore that mask of experience to get the job, you can’t ask for help. What do you think will happen? You will crash and burn. But if you approached the position with the experience you do have and stated your desire to excel at the job they are offering and asked how you might go about getting experience in order to be qualified for the job…you will have represented yourself honestly and probably earned their respect.
To learn: The problem with a mask is it often limits your perspective. Looking through eye holes can cut off peripheral vision. Have you ever done the teamwork exercise where you place several items on the seat of a chair, have people stand in a circle around it and describe what they see? Not everybody sees everything. But when they share their view, it combines with yours to make a complete picture.
To love: Think about it. If you only ever saw your partner while wearing a figure-hugging girdle under your clothes, what happens when you take that bad boy off? Your partner will feel deceived. Not because you are suddenly lumpy, but because you always have been and you never trusted them enough to share that. Now, let’s re-imagine this relationship where you take off the figure hugging girdle sometime around the second or third date. Or maybe only don it for those truly special occasions when you want to feel extra sexy. Guess what. It’s YOU your partner falls for. Not your lump-less figure. But you can’t know that if you don’t give them the chance.
Masks can be totally acceptable. But chose wisely when to don one.