The Masquerade Ball

Almost everyone wears a disguise. That facade or veneer we represent to others that is more about how we want to be viewed as a person by others, rather than the person we truly are. To some degree, it is an innate human trait. We want to extol our best qualities and traits, so that we are accepted, respected, loved, or admired by others. We want to always be seen shiny side up. That is why we dress nice for dates, church, and interviews. And since almost everyone does it, it seems like a fairly innocuous part of life. We simply accept that rarely do we know anyone with any true depth. And we do it in every part of our lives. How people will view us pervades our thinking in just about everything we choose that is an outward representation of who we are.

The homes, clothes, cars, even the schools our children attend are often chosen because we want to be seen as successful. It influences the books we read, words we use, stories we tell because we want to be considered intelligent. It may even impact when and how we give, so that we are seen as charitable. Even with our spouses, significant others, and closest family we rarely give the whole truth of who we really are. These people, who are the most understanding, loving, and supportive people in our lives, often get a somewhat polished version of who we are. It is our culture, but why?

We are social animals.  Acceptance by others is an important part of that interaction. It would then be counter-intuitive to divulge, to people we care about, our worst human qualities. I have often heard people say, “I don’t care what others think of me”. But I think what they mean to say is, “I don’t care what people I don’t care about think of me”. Our friends and family are often people we love and respect, thus we value their views on who we are. If the guy down the street, which you don’t like, thinks you are an asshole, so be it. If your spouse thinks that, it may not be so easy to accept. You may even want to know why they think of you in that way, and if their view has a valid foundation, you may choose to change that part of your character for the better.

Even though we know this to be a reasonable truth, we still often make judgments of others based solely on that which is represented to us. We see the fancy home, car, or clothes and automatically accept they are financially successful. And the guy in dirty clothes and unkempt hair, driving the beat up van is less so. We hear kind words and witness compassionate actions, and then consider them to be good and decent people. Later, circumstances may cause their true nature to show and we are hurt or surprised they could act in such a mean or vengeful way. We see those visual things or hear what they tell us, and our brain fills in the rest. Of course, if we were to get to know these people on a deeper level, we may readily see that our initial perception was not wholly accurate. We consistently show others only what we want them to see, and only those things that show is in a good light. I guess it is just inevitable that we are this way. And I do not suggest that any individual can completely live in a manner that is open and entirely honest about who they are.

However, we live these lies and misrepresentations so well and so consistently, as to often fall prey to our own deceptions. If we make our disguise well enough, the people around us see us a good people, even great people sometimes. And this feels good. It boosts our esteem and placates our egos. We revel in the respect, adoration, or love that comes from our costume, and begin to believe that this is truly who we are. And that is the trap. We are not perfect beings, and no one can ever hope to be. But we can continue to grow on a personal level. When we admit our faults and failures as people to ourselves, we can be encouraged to change those actions or ways of thinking. We can grow to be the good people we want people to see us as. So make sure every sequin and brocade of your costume is in place for the outside world, but remain honest with yourself. See where you fall short of being the person you want to be. And, more importantly, find a reason to changes those things that are not your best qualities. Personal growth is at stake. Or you can rest all your hopes on the idea that the representation of the person you are, so carefully crafted and maintained, never fades or falls short for even a moment.

© 2012  Commonsensibly Speaking ~ Brad Osborne

2 Responses to “The Masquerade Ball”
  1. Amy Putkonen says:

    I think the key to all of this is to accept your foibles and accept the foibles of the ones you love. That is a place to start. If we can learn to look at ourselves with a loving eye and to realize that the show is just the show, perhaps we will soon relax enough to see that we are OK just as we are.

    As we practice this, others will follow because it feels very nice to be able to kick off your shoes and relax and be yourself.

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