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Breathing Under Masks

The “strongest” fake you is nowhere near as convincing as the “weakest” real you.

Christmas and capitalism are allied in the same way Halloween portrays America’s complicity in deception. Gifts and greed, masks and fear. On October 31st, we celebrate how well we wear masks and are free to don new faces even before we’ve accepted the one beneath. We masquerade to scare others like we do to make the world love us. Who are you when you walk into a room? Our insecurities usually arrive before us, and we show up after, cloaked in everything we're not. What we interpret as the love of our face is the appreciation for the mask. Then again, assuming we will be met with malice is just anxiety of not being sure of how lovable we are.

If you leave yourself behind, It’ll be hard for others to have an authentic experience of you later. Authenticity has welcomed me in ways that being fraudulent never will. The real you has more longevity than any other version your insecurities have pieced together. When in rooms we don’t care to be in, we rarely experience imposter syndrome. We’ve fallen in love with people accepting our masks.

It will always be hard to breathe under a mask.

Authenticity kept me out of trouble in high school. Especially when many of my adolescent years attempted to lure out a version of me that only passed through the moments but was still prone to ignorance. Being real kept me in the classroom’s and street’s good graces– it pointed me toward one and away from the other. Being my authentic self never brought me any wrongs nor lured me into trouble.

It feels good when people fall in love with who I am the first time. It’s challenging to present a new version of yourself later. There is a unique form of power at play as well. When others think they’ve mastered you– by learning your patterns and weaknesses– you somehow become subject to any way of handling. People find us without our masks all the time.

You can only cast yourself once. If more than this, people won’t forget who you were before the rebrand. They’ll see the holes exposing your eyes and mouth beneath. Everything fake has an attribute to highlight how pseudo it is. We live in an unforgiving culture that feasts on the mistakes and mishaps of others, like vultures awaiting prey to die slowly—placing your parody before you is dangerous. No one will know which version to take seriously. Parodies and caricatures make jokes about things meant to be taken seriously.

Future’s “Mask Off” in 2017 went 8X platinum while the rest of the world interpreted a reference to breaking and entering attire as advising to bask in authenticity.

Authenticity makes self-reflection easier. It gives you something authentic to reflect on.

I’m also not just talking about physical transformations, like losing weight or breaks from alcohol. I’m speaking of reflecting on our hearts and values and how ready we are to expose what sits underneath our shells. There’s no confusion about who I am. I don’t seek to bemuse people about any part of my life. When they know who you are, there’s no question of how to approach you.

If you leave your authentic self at home, you forget the key that gives you access to many rooms. But we will always fear the truth. We will forever lie to kick it.

Told by: Kwon

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