Masked Monday

Yesterday I had my regular fortnightly meeting with my parole officer, job services provider. 

Trouble was, I completely forgot about it. 

I’d made myself a sensational lunch, watched WestWorld (OMG! Bernard!) and after faffing about in the kitchen stacking dishes, I made a coffee, grabbed a couple of Tim Tams and flopped back on to the couch. Without a care in the world, I flipped open my iPad. There it was: Appt 3:30pm, staring up at me from the screen. 

I looked at the time, 3:17pm. 

I sprang into action, luckily I had trackied up from the waist down, so I ripped my pj tee off, put my bra on, grabbed a fresh tee, ran a brush through my hair, slammed my coffee down in four gulps, washed my face, brushed my teeth and grabbed my keys. 

I was only five minutes late! 

My usual consultant wasn’t there, so I met with Jade and we quickly checked the boxes of my still fruitless job search, had a brief chat, she mentioned a role with their company that might suit me, flicked me the link and I was on my way. I told her I’d apply for the job, devoid of hope. 

As I drove home, I thought to myself, I was pretty “on” just then, making light of my fruitless job search, giving Jade the impression I was totally fine, agreeing with her patter about peaks and valleys in the search, and I realised, I’d taken an almost unconscious choice to slip behind a mask. Just smile, be funny, get in and out, fast. 

I do that, I guess you could say I perform to keep myself safe. People like resilient, witty, joke cracking Annette, she’s inspiring, she’s robust and resilient, she’s coping so beautifully that people forget how long she’s been struggling. 

That Annette is me, but sometimes the twinkle in the patter doesn’t quite reach my eyes. 

I was glad that I noticed that I’d slipped behind a mask. 

It reminded me that I don’t want to do that, and that I don’t have to do it either. 

I’m not saying that every encounter I have should be a detailed examination of my emotional and mental state, far from it, but I don’t need to sugar coat the realities either. 

Whatever you make of it, I’ve felt a bit off over the viciousness of the recent US election campaign, and as I watched the results come in, I was thunderstruck at what I was seeing. We now have a Jekyl & Hyde tweeting, misogynistic, flame throwing, applause loving, utterly unprepared to lead a nation, former TV celebrity/business mogul with white supremacist advisors preparing to take the helm of the United States. 

And people are so cranky about how long (hello, it’s been six days) people are taking to “get over it”. 

Maybe I’m not the only one feeling the pressure to slip behind a mask, to present a facade to the world.

Do you find yourself slipping behind a mask in certain situations? Around particular people? 

It’s awful isn’t it – the feeling that we can’t simply be ourselves? 

Some days I have my head held high, I feel good, and some days I’m a bit wobbly, but both are okay. 

Both are human. 

On the days when I’m wobbly, I reach for my iPhone and my newly created Positive Vibes playlist. I listened to it on the way to my op shop shift this morning, singing along and letting the upbeat synth and 80s harmonica solos work their magic. 

Perhaps that’s why when the conversation in the break room turned to youth homelessness and generational welfare and how hard it is to push back against a wall of institutionalised red tape or job seeking inertia, I kept my mask off, and told the truth about how it feels some days, even when you’re resilient and determined, to hang tough and keep hoping. It’s not a walk in the park, and I can’t imagine what people with less in their emotional tanks go through. 

I can now add “cried at the op shop lunch table” to my long list of odd places I’ve wept. 

And do you know what? Not only did I honour myself by remaining unmasked, I gave my workmates the opportunity to hear my truth, to see me as I really am, and in return, I got to see their compassion and concern in a new light. And I felt better for it, immediately. 

Now, more than ever, I think we need to find the space and grace to bear witness to each other’s real, in the moment, I’m not finished processing this just yet, selves. 

Masks off, team. 

It feels so much better to be, and see, genuine.

My no. 1 suggestion for your positivity playlist:  

 

Nothing’s gonna stop us, nothing’s gonna stop us now….. 

Cheers, 

Annette x 

12 thoughts on “Masked Monday

  1. I have to comment when something moves me or clicks. In my job I wear a mask. That is also the true me. I am up beat, funny but I am also smart feisty. The masks get mixed up. I appreciate your reminder.

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    • If it’s part of the real you, I don’t see it as a mask, more of a facet, like a diamond!!

      Thank you so much for letting me know that today’s blog post clicked for you Cathie, that’s why I write!!

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  2. If we don’t drop the mask, then we can’t have honest communications and honest relationships. There has to be a time when we can say ‘actually, things are a bit shit at the moment’. keeping the mask in is equivalent to the curated images on social media – it’s just not real life.

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  3. excellent thought provoking stuff, as usual! Thanks Nettie. I’ve been rocked by the election too. It feels very, very bad to me, all my instincts are firing warning messages at me. I am tired. I spent today in bed, feeling all the feels of sadness and helplessness. I don’t even know how to communicate about it, people think I am overreacting. I feel a world-sadness, a heaviness. Like all the work women have been doing to further our cause (and therefore, improve the entire planet) is for nothing.
    Right now I’d rather hide behind a mask I think. Sometimes my real authentic self is too raw.

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    • Those damn pollsters – and common decency – had us believing she couldn’t lose!!

      Take care of yourself Rach, I’ve cancelled getting something at home fixed tomorrow so I can eek out as many hours alone / in bed as possible, before work.

      I’m taking comfort from these rise words from Glennon Doyle Melton –

      First the pain, then the rising.

      We will rise again.

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  4. a good post as usual thankyou Annette!
    I feel we all wear masks to get us through!
    I have an archetype of the chameleon and I like it!
    but my true self emerges anyway!
    I find myself being idealistic … a common fault with the self!
    then I relax things down because things never measures up!
    so “it is what it is!”
    trump … shame!
    a political analyst on rn said the people get what they deserve!!! … how does that system even work when not everyone votes!
    oh my I only hope is that he mellows pretty quickly!
    when is Australia going to stop putting America on a pedestal!
    lets look to more intelligent countries for guidance! aka Scandinavian countries!
    one needs an educated population for that!
    good on you for being so honest about you crap stuff you are going through hun!
    hoping in the mire you find something worthwhile for your level of brain power!!! … that being super!
    much love m:)X

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    • You make some great points Merilyn, as usual!
      The people deserve better than a spotlight hungry narcissist, I think.

      I’m going to keep creating and keep being authentic, even when it feels scary.

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  5. Great piece of writing Annette. I think we all have a range of masks that are on high rotation. The real skill is determining when to abandon the mask and just be uncomfortably honest. I think you nailed the right moment. xx

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