We spend a lot of time wearing ‘masks’ – it’s an adaptability we learn from a young age; the skill to adjust tone, language, clothing and persona based on our social environment. We may find ourselves acting one way with our close family, another with our intimate partner, yet another in our work place, and perhaps another or another depending on where we are and who we’re with. For me, personally, at one time I think I counted as many as 10 or 11 different masks that I would wear within the same week, and maybe even within the same day. Keeping up with that and constantly shifting who and how I showed up was exhausting!! And somewhere along the way, I began to feel I didn’t even know who my truly authentic Self was.
Uncovering one’s authentic Self is not an easy task. The acknowledgment of this desire is just the first step to discovering one’s true being. What follows is a journey, an inquisition to determine who we really are, asking ‘who am I without that mask?’ The masks have molded us to define who we are, creating ‘guidelines’ for how we should be, based on which mask we’re wearing. Daring to live without the masks takes tremendous courage; it puts us in a place of self-definition, not based on anyone else’s perceptions nor expectations. It can feel like a lonely and uncharted road to follow. Yet, there is that moment which encourages us and keeps the momentum to uncover our truth – that moment we are truly seen for who we are, no masks at all.
Being seen isn’t about being noticed nor acknowledged for an accomplishment. It’s also not about shining brighter than everyone else, which may be a familiar habit, reinforced by childhood experiences of being applauded or rewarded for behavior. Shifting away from these external validations of our worth is part of the process of growing into one’s true Self. To be seen means that another person witnesses and accepts us, unconditionally, just as we are, and sees our true depth of feelings, thoughts, beliefs and sense of self-worth. Being seen means to have someone look into our souls, beyond the clothes we wear and the things we do, and honor and respect our essence, values and experiences of life.
The moments when we are seen help us define and reinforce who we are, without the masks, and without judgment nor expectation. These are times which guide us to feel rooted in our being, building confidence in who we are, without others’ ideas of who we should be. It is truly a gift to find the people in life who see us for exactly who we are. And beyond being seen, it is an even greater gift to look into someone else’s soul and witness them for exactly who they are, seeing them as if through their own eyes, and opening the world of possibility within them.
When we experience being seen, we gain confidence to be ourselves, no matter who we’re with or where we are. We feel freedom to allow our authentic Selves to shine, in all situations, not just when we feel safe or secure, but also through difficulty and uncertainty. To be seen with acceptance, without conditions, gives way for us to show up in our truths and with profound purpose. We find that we may more readily drop the masks, relate more genuinely with the people around us, and live in a way that doesn’t drain our energy, but rather sustains us because we feel supported from within, confident in who we are, just as we are.
By Jen Rizza, Founder of Newtown Wellness Collective
IAHC Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Reiki Master, RYT