What’s Your Disguise?
I’m writing this on October 31, which is celebrated as Halloween in quite a few countries. Since I literally have readers around the world, allow me to say Happy Halloween to those of you celebrating!
Halloween is obviously a big deal in the U.S., second only to Christmas in its economic impact. I have many fond memories of Halloween as a kid (and a few scary ones too). I loved wearing costumes, but the highlight was always going trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with my brother and our friends.
It was one of the few nights we could stay out late during the school year, and all the kids would compare notes to see which houses had the best treats. After it was over, the loads of candy we got would last for weeks. Correction – MY load of candy would last for weeks. I remember my brother being a bit of a hoarder, so his stash would last for months.
Even though I don’t get into Halloween as much as I used to as a kid, I still love watching the creativity that some people put into their costumes. One of the best costumes I saw in recent years was a co-worker who showed up as Edward Scissorhands. The costume was so good he could have easily won a cosplay competition… and all of us wondered how he would be able to go to the bathroom without accidentally performing some type cosmetic surgery. (He was obviously successful, because he and his wife have had a couple of kids since then.)
The tradition of dressing up in costume and pretending to be someone or something we aren’t got me thinking about my own journey of transformation. I spent most of my adult life hiding parts of me for fear of how people would react, or working in jobs that I just settled for because I thought I couldn’t get something better. To put it another way, I spent that time at one, big Halloween party, pretending to be someone I knew I wasn’t.
It seems odd for me to say that on the heels of my post about Am I REALLY Like This, so let me clarify. I’ve always allowed my true personality to come through, but when it came to me talking openly about the challenges I’ve faced, or having the courage to pursue the career I really wanted to pursue, I was definitely hiding behind a mask. The fear of being labeled or judged, or losing a job because I was looking for something better loomed over every decision I made. When I decided that I would no longer live in fear, the mask came off.
You know what I discovered? Life is much more interesting and a helluva lot more fun when I live it as my true self. I stopped worrying about whether or not people would discover that I was once an emotional wreck. I had more freedom to be my true self and I was happier for it. Best of all, I freed myself to pursue the career I always wanted to pursue. Have I made a few adjustments and course corrections along the way? You’d better believe it, but I’m having a great time because I’m learning more about myself and my strengths and what I really want.
How many of us go through our lives wearing a mask or a costume, living in fear of having our true selves discovered? Societal and religious pressures are perhaps the two biggest reasons that most of us keep our true selves hidden. I know that feeling, because those were the very reasons why I kept parts of me from being seen. But there’s something else I discovered when I let go of the fears
When one support network withdrew, another one rushed in to take its place. My new support system not only accepted me and loved me as I was, but it was aligned with the person I had become, and was becoming. The same thing holds true for each of us. None of us live in a vacuum, meaning that none of us are truly alone. When we make the courageous decision to let go of the fears, doubts, and beliefs that hold us back, that void is quickly filled with the tools, people, and support that will take us to where we really want to go. This holds true in our careers, our love lives, or anything else.
So what’s your disguise? Are you ready to take it off and let your true self shine? It’s okay if you’re not ready yet, but if you are, then woo hoooo! You’ll discover that being you is much more fun than wearing a mask.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.