Revolution Part 2: Masks

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What masks do you have on? What steps can you take to get them off?

Liliana Owen, Journalist

In an earlier article (Revolution, Part 1: My Epiphany), I challenged you, the students of Williamsburg, to engage in a revolution. I said,

So right now, I want to challenge all WA and LAU students to be themselves. To be who they really are. Let’s not be afraid to be different Let’s not pretend we’re someone who we are not.

I’m asking all students to stand up and participate in a revolution -a revolution against who we’re pretending to be. Let’s have a revolution of being ourselves and revolutionize our mindsets and our actions so we can be true leaders.

Let’s be who we were born to be, and not pretend to be mediocre.

And I meant it: it’s time that we stood up and shook off the chains of our self-made prison. Because that is what pretending to be someone we are not, prison.

In their book Thomas Jefferson Education For Teens: (And Every Adult Who Wants To Change The World), Oliver DeMille and Shannon Brooks write, 

“It all starts when a teenager decides to put on a mask, or several masks, usually in order to ‘fit in’… Sadly, many men and women go on in this painful struggle for the rest of their lives. The truth is, we were each born to be somebody, somebody important, somebody wonderful, with a unique and vital life mission and purpose. That somebody for me is the Real Me, and that somebody for you is the Real You and until we find the real us, we will be unhappy.”

Let me tell you some more of my story.

I moved when I was almost five, leaving behind a very good friend (we did EVERYTHING together), and because I was homeschooled, I didn’t really have an opportunity to make many friends until I was 8 or 9. At my church youth group activities, I felt so alone. So left out. So unwanted. And so to deal with it, I put on a mask. Sure, I cried about it a lot and talked to my mom about it, but she thought that all I needed to do was put on a smile and say hi to everybody. Because she didn’t understand the Real Me, she was (unwittingly) trying to help me put on a mask.

And I tried-I really did. But I just couldn’t. So I became a know-it-all. Seriously. I was smart before, but I took it to a whole new extreme. I had to prove my worth by being super stinkin’ smart. I put on masks, layering them on when one wasn’t working enough. It hurt. A lot. But I continued. I knew of no other way to deal with the pain I felt.

But then, the know-it-all-ness became a problem. So I tried to hide it even more. But it didn’t work, my smarts just became even more glaringly obvious -only now, I hated it. It got me too many snide comments, too many eye rolls, too many fake friends.

And so I continued until January 2019, when I decided it was time for a 180. Seriously, a 180. I changed a lot in the first few months of that year, and I was so much happier. Sure, I was still smart, reserved, serious, etc. But I was content with it and decided not to hide anymore.

Recently, I’ve noticed some more masks slipping on and I’m taking measures to deal with them. One is that I’ve been trying really hard not to be an over-achiever (which is kinda hard, because I like to milk learning experiences for all they’re worth). But that is just a mask. It’s not the Real Me.

So now it’s time for me to do another 180. It’s time to take off the masks slipping back on and go back to being the Real Me.

What masks do you have? Are you ready to take them off? What steps can you take to get started?