This afternoon, I walked through the bathroom door, left ajar, and a teenager was putting on make-up. I quickly backed up, apologized, and turned to go and wait my turn on the wooden bench in the foyer of my school. As I turned, she said with a smile, “oh, it’s okay. I was just putting my face on.”
Her turn of words stayed with me for the rest of the afternoon. She only meant that she was putting her make-up on, but I couldn’t help but to think of it as a metaphor. How many times do we put on various faces because we’re expected to or because we’re afraid of what people might think of the one, true us? Each morning before we leave, we might leave as the Beatles sing in “Eleanor Rigby,” “wearing the face that [we] keep in a jar by the door. Who is it for?” Listen, who is it for?
We put on various faces throughout our lives. We swap out masks that convey perfection for ones that show control. Some days, we put the mask on of complete confidence and no one can see the difference. We put on masks for happiness and joy, resolution and fearlessness. Sometimes, we meet other girls who wear masks and we do no one any favors by both wearing our masks in front of one another. Doesn’t the mask wearing, the putting on of face, grow tiring? Hasn’t it simply gone on too long?
Today, I was texting a trusted and experienced teacher and mother. In our exchange, I said how being a mother has made me so very emotional–even more than before. How emotional life is for me now–the beauty somedays is simply blinding, while the worry other days is truly exhausting. Mothering is rewarding and frustrating all at once. I can cry in frustration but then laugh in total joy, all in the same hour. I started to tell her that I was “too” this or “too” that and then I simply typed, “well, I guess this is me, unapologetically.” And how lucky I am that she likes me anyway.
Yes, this is me, unapologetically. Without my mask, I’m very sensitive and emotional. The very things that enable me to be a writer–my introspection and observation–are both blessings and curses. But it’s me, unapologetically. For years, I’ve apologized for, backed down from, or turned away from my emotions. I won’t do it anymore.
It’s the season of awakening, my friends. Girls are finally leaving masks by the door, walking barefaced into the light of day, themselves, unapologetically. Join us?
Thanks for Mothering the Divide here with me and if you dare, leave your mask at the door when you join us here on the page. If we can learn to be our authentic selves, we can lead the way for the children who watch–the ones who also grab their masks as they walk through the door every morning.