Create • Inspire • Journey
by Rachelle Eason
Behind the Mask…Journal Writing Prompt
As I have shared in the past…I am not a fan of Halloween. People dressed up in spooky garb still scares me as an adult. I don’t like the zombie trend, and I especially do not enjoy being scared by people for their amusement.
I really do not like masks.
The candy, especially the chocolate, however, I like!
Last week in my Journaling with Art and Words class at the Polk Museum of Art, I was pleasantly surprised with a different, almost functional, notion of a mask.
We were using watercolors and colored pencils to design our physical space in two forms. A front as it relates to our public persona and a back as it relates to our private selves. One of my fabulous students referred to her public persona as that of being a mask, hiding or protecting her private self from the public hours in her day.
Wow! Just wow! I was blown away.
But…I think I’m an open book.
I have rather prided myself on being an open book. I share so many aspects of my life, good and bad, happy and sad, successes and failures, because of gratefulness. In the past, others have shared theirs with me and I have learned so much. I have walked down paths or changed course because of stories mentors have shared. I have identified medical needs for my children because of learning about health situations from friends and coworkers. I have felt encouraged and empowered because of family members opening up. I am grateful for this.
I believe in passing it forward and I have always felt that I have put forth my authentic self to pass whatever experiences I have had forward to others in hopes that I can inspire, mentor, and encourage others.
The reference to putting on a mask when we go out in public is, of course, not new, but it struck me as deeply profound in this instance. I think it has often been referred to that wearing make-up is “putting on a mask” and that we may “mask” our privacy. At Disney, it is called being “on stage” when we are in public areas and I guess the smiles that we always wear are a sort of mask to go along with our “Disney Dress” or costumes.
This type of “mask” that came up in our deep conversation was accurate and on point in our discussion. It made me rethink how much I put out in the world. Am I still wearing a mask even though I share so much. I think so. Is it a mask I want to take off? Not really.
One of the things I definitively stated when I began this transition of my business from in-person to online was that I did not want to display my personal self on the Internet stage. I guess I need to clarify that though. I embrace sharing the same personal aspects with the world that I would share on the promenade at EPCOT talking with a guest. I think those facets just pour out of me when I discuss the passion I have for my art and journaling or education, my children, my love for all things local, or my deep desire for travel.
What I don’t want to share I guess could be considered the time when I wear my mask. Other online artists pour their heart and soul out on the Internet and that works for them. I am sure they keep some deeply personal aspects protected and only share with their close family and friends, but they put so much more out there than I feel comfortable doing.
Being Authentically Me
My question is then about authenticity. How can I achieve authenticity without taking off my mask? Is being true to me but not revealing all of me still authentic? After all, I don’t think I am putting on a front that misleads anyone.
Through journal writing I am discovering similarities between the facets of my life that i choose to keep personal out of the public eye. I am also walking a thin line between what I share in response to questions versus what I feel uncomfortable discussing.
I am figuring out that much of what I keep private, I do so because it not only protects my raw emotions, but it protects the privacy of those I love. Is it possible that we wear masks out in public not only because we are private people but because we think that much of what is personal in our lives is not wholly ours to share?
These questions I have been asking myself have generated a slew of writing in my journals over the last few days and I highly suggest taking the journey through them. As a recap, they are listed below, clarified for easy prompting. Happy Halloween and happy soul searching behind your mask!
- How can (or do) I achieve authenticity when I am in public space without taking off my mask?
- Is being true to me, but not revealing all of me, still authentic? How do I walk that line? How are those two sides coexisting and evolving?
- Is my public mask protecting others that are close to me because those parts of my story are not wholly mine to share?
- What would it mean to my mental health to actually release more. How would it effect those close to me?