Maybe it’s where I am at in life, maybe it’s Halloween being just around the corner, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the different masks I wear. Do they work in my favor or against me? Are they dangerous or can they be liberating? I’ve come to the conclusion that it depends on which mask I’m wearing and why. You see, there was a time in my career as an artist that I wore a mask of mimicry. I was constantly comparing myself to other women who had achieved a level of success that I envied and found myself trying to do what they do. I wasn’t bad at it either. I could write a song like Colbie Caillat and sing like India Arie…artists that I had felt inspired by and looked up to. But at a certain point I stopped being inspired and began to try and BE them.
To make this impersonation act that much easier, I found those around me, who’s opinions I trusted, encouraging me down this path. Encouraging me to be an artist they believed in, an artist they could fight for, but an artist that just wasn’t me. And I let them for a while. Thinking that they, as the veterans of the industry and trusted allies, they’d get me where I wanted to go. But you know what happened? After a while, all those people around me were nowhere to be found and I was left with a version of myself that I didn’t fully recognize.
The time that followed was not easy. Seemed like there were more dark days than light ones, and I was just on a hamster wheel trying to get through life and pay my bills, let alone make strides in my artistry. I found myself being more and more introverted, confronting my deepest frustrations and lack of confidence.
But this time was necessary. As hard as it was, when I was allowing myself to feel those emotions I was able to really see them as they were. They were just emotions and they didn’t define me. I started to think about the person that I was and the person that I wanted to be. It was then that I realized, sometimes I had to pretend once again, but this time the masks I put on were masks of courage in place of fear. A mask of strength when I was weak. A mask of will when I was so broken I didn’t want to move. I allowed the masks I wore to ignite the fire inside me to fuel massive action, with persistent determination. Until those masks weren’t masks at all…they were just..me.
So I say this Halloween, no matter what mask you put on, let it be one that opens you up to discovering a part of yourself you didn’t know was there.
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