Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Learning through the pandemic. We put on a mask everyday when we go out. It is not so new. Many always have.
Going out? Don’t forget your mask. It is required to put on a mask to go to work, enter establishments, or to be around other people including family you don’t normally see. The new normal. Sort of.
Fighting COVID might be compared to punching into the air, hitting nothing and continuing to do so not really knowing how to stop the madness. The invisible is difficult to fight. The mask is a way to help prevent the wearer and others from contracting this virus. There is enough fear for people to know they do not want to contract the virus.
But is this mask wearing so unimaginable? Every day, many people put on a mask. They put it on when they wake up, or when they get to work. They put it on for the boss, for meetings or interviews, or for coworkers. They put it on for their spouse and family, for their friends, and even for people they just meet. Some never take it off. This mask is like COVID. It is invisible, and no one can see it, not even the one wearing it.
The mask provides a sense of security and strength for some and may promote pain and suffering for others when it does not provide the coverage the wearer seeks. The mask prevents others from seeing who this person really is. It allows the wearer to only reveal as much as they would like, as much as they believe the person they are with can handle or even as much as it takes to make that person see what the wearer wants them to see, whether it is real or pretend. Yet people continue to wear them, every day, for what they hope the mask can cover as well as what they hope it will prevent others from seeing.
Just like COVID can seep in around the eyes, nose, and mouth when wearing a mask, this mask also works in limited situations. When the person wearing it does not get what they need, the mask has failed them. In this case, there is constant readjusting of the mask rather than accepting and being one’s true self.
Some complaints of the masks put on to prevent the spread of COVID are how difficult it is to breathe behind them. They fit either too loose or too tight, it is hot breathing inside the mask, eyeglasses fog up, and the unspoken, “How much longer will I have to wear this?”
Yes, when that other mask is worn, these same concerns exist. We can only truly manage ourselves. The mask takes away the ability to be one’s true self. So, wearers of the mask make it acceptable.
Pandemic or COVID masks are made in just about every image allowable and unallowable. Some show smiles while others show jagged teeth. Some taut sports teams and reveal some expression of the person wearing the mask. The question is the same. Who is really behind the mask? Are you smiling or maybe really glad no one knows. No need to pretend. How much longer will you wear the mask that no one sees? The one that prevents you from being yourself. The one that in some ways molds you into what you believe everyone else wants you to be or that keeps you from realizing your greatness as the external focus of winning over those around you reigns more important.
Consider walking around with your thoughts written on your forehead. That information is simply not acceptable to share and the mask helps keep unseen. What if we strive to always think the most positive and best thoughts in situations? Where we cannot, likely those are situations that are difficult for everyone. Yet we choose our thoughts. Choosing positive over negative feels so much better. Acceptance starts with self and that includes accepting people as they are. Take off the invisible mask. When communicating with others who you perceive need you to be someone pleasing to them, let them go on their way and find how to adjust and eventually remove their own masks. Try understanding we are all different and our beliefs are ours. No explanation needed.