sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

Do Your Characters Wear Masks – Do You?

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do YouThis week’s post is about the masks that people wear. Recently, I’ve been diving beneath the hood of my main character in my current work in progress, and asking her some serious questions about who she really is? What lies beneath the surface? In the process of asking her these questions, I found that I’ve been holding a mirror up to myself.

Who am I?

I think as writers it is really important to know who we are. Interesting people and characters have layers, but sometimes all of that hides beneath the surface. So this week I’m going to look at what goes on behind the mask.

Do you ever feel like you’re wearing a mask?

Like you can’t be your true self, because of fear. Fear of ridicule, fear of attack, or fear of rejection? This is an idea I have been toying with for a few weeks–actually for years. I have written about it before, but recently the idea resurfaced. Playing with my characters in my stories has been an eye-opening experience, and one that I find very interesting. Sometimes when characters appear in my books they present a certain persona to the world, a mask if you will, but there is usually a whole lot more going on beneath the surface.

I see these two aspects going on, hand in hand, as I write my books. I think about it when I walk down the street, pass strangers at the mall, or on the sidewalk. Often times, I try to read the stories on their face. What kind of lives do they live? What mask do they wear for their children, their boss, their mother?

I wonder if any of us walk around without a mask; in every situation, circumstance or the company we keep? Or does everyone distort who they are, even a little, for the recipient?

In asking myself this question I think it’s easy to say, ‘yes, I wear a mask’. Or sometimes I do, with certain people, or in certain situations. I think it’s easy to recognize the mask or even feel the weight of it on my face.

Questions I’ve been Pondering:

Who am I?
Who am I really?
Do I know?
Am I hiding?
If so, what am I hiding?

Knowing Yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ~ Aristotle

Like I said, I have been playing a lot with this idea lately. It’s something my brain loves to do. Ask a question or make a statement, then attack it from all angles. So that I can then dig down into the heart and meat of the idea.

Why Hide?

What could be a reason why I would not reveal myself completely?

Maybe because I’ve been hurt in the past, a long time ago, and I don’t want to reveal myself. So that I can protect myself.

But, I’ve also discovered something else in my search. People often create inner masks, or shells. It’s like a double-layered mask, created out of self-protection. I know it sounds strange, but this second mask that I would reveal to others wasn’t the real me either. It would reveal itself if someone got too close to me. Except, this mask wasn’t very pretty at all. In fact, it was rather scary. You see, I created a mask made out of anger, which served as gatekeeper to my true self; my vulnerable self, my soft center.

Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

The hard exterior shell would steal my joy, but keep me safe. But it would also prevent me from ever being my true self. At least with anyone else.

To really reveal ourselves, we must know ourselves–do you know who you are?

Do You Wear an Angry Mask?

As a coach, I have heard people say, ‘people need to accept me, and see me for who I really am’. Which really translates into, ‘you have to love me at my worst, then maybe, just maybe I’ll let you in’.

But I would question, if who you really think you are–is really you? Or is it maybe all the hurt, anger, depression and rage that you hide behind a mask, that you let people either glimpse a little or a lot.

Is really what hides behind the mask just another hard shell that actually hides your soft center? The part of you that is so soft, so gentle, so vulnerable and has been damaged so badly, a long time ago, that it will never see the light of day again–ever!

Is the dark shell the part of you that you are asking others to accept?–“Here’s me warts and all, accept me, hate me, or leave me.”

Sometimes I think it’s easier to reveal a crappy part of ourselves that evolved from dysfunction and rejection, rather than the gentle and soft loving part.

Maybe you wear a different kind of mask?

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You

Do You Wear a Happy Mask?

Or maybe you have swung the other way. Do you wear a mask of feigned niceness, when really you’re depressed inside or sad? Are you a people pleaser?

Do you try to maintain the status quo, try not to rock the boat, so that no one ever gets to see a genuine emotion or voice come from you?

What would happen if you revealed that soft part, that real part, that loving part? What would happen if you revealed your true self–your inner softness, that part of you that is intimate and vulnerable?

Dropping the Mask- who are you really?

Is it okay to let people see the real you?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, anger has its place, anger has power. Anger kept you safe at a time when you weren’t. But are you still offering others something that no longer serves you? That no longer really protects you? Are you pushing the people you love away, the ones that deserve the real you, your soft innards?

Or, what would happen if you dropped the, ‘I’m okay’ mask, maybe you’re not, maybe it’s okay to ask for help. To reach out to someone else, and show them the real you.

What’s the worse that could happen anyway, you’re a grownup now–remember! You have the power to make decisions and choices. Maybe anger doesn’t need to be involved at all. Or nonchalance, or superiority, or whatever coping mechanism you’ve come up with in the past to protect yourself. Maybe, you can just be you, and when you need to, you can just walk away!

Will the real me please stand up!

Write it down–

What’s the worse that could happen, if I showed my true self to another?

Now write down–

What’s the best that could happen, if I opened up to someone else?

Wait, I’m not asking you too, I’m just asking what if?

What if you trusted?
What if you tried?

Who are you?
Who are you really?
Do you know?

Have you accepted yourself? Loved yourself? Could there be a part of you that you deem unworthy? Because it’s too nice? Too soft? Too weak? Too bad?

Just asking?

I’m experimenting this month with renewal. Or maybe even rediscovery. Playing and having some fun with it –nothing too scary– as I prod and poke at my soft center, and give my characters a friendly poke too!

Are you free already?

What are your thoughts? Who are you? Do you think there is any truth to this, what has been your experience? Are you free already, and if so how did you get there? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments in the comment box below.

sk lamont Do Your Characters Wear Masks- Do You


Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Who are you?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

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12 replies
    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Amanda I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and also this concept. It’s an idea that has been intriguing me lately and I appreciate your taking the time to comment!

  1. Marie Rogers
    Marie Rogers says:

    I’ve been thinking along these lines lately. I tend to wear the Happy Mask, showing the world that I’m strong, self-sufficient, doing OK. I don’t like to admit that I’m needy, and I hate to ask for help. I’ve found that I wear different masks in different settings and there are few people who know all aspects of me. As I get older and more self-assured (actually, as I stop worrying so much about what others think of me), I find these masks dissolving. Isn’t life an adventure?

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      This is wonderful insight Marie. You’re so right, the older we get, the less we tend worry about what others will think! Thank you so much for sharing, I value your thoughts!

  2. James Stack
    James Stack says:

    A very thought provoking post – thank you. I took acting lessons most of my childhood, so I learned to wear different masks quite early. I find that I don’t like wearing them, but then find I have one on most, if not all, of the time. It depends upon the situation which one I’m wearing. Most of my life it has been a people pleasing mask.

    I will from this moment forward read my writing in a different light – which mask have I put on my characters and why.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Thank you so much James for commenting, I appreciate your thoughts! I find the concept of mask wearing a very interesting one, and wonder if there can be a positive benefit sometimes, without the negative consequences? I’m having a lot of fun looking at my characters in the same light, and asking then some of these same questions– it’s proving to be very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Charity
    Charity says:

    This concept really intrigues me. I often wonder what people are really like as I pass them in public places. It is great inspiration for creating characters! Thanks for posting!

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Yes, it is a great inspiration, Charity! I think as writers, it’s so important for us to investigate the world in which we live, there is a wealth of inspiration surrounding us! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Tracy Corral
    Tracy Corral says:

    Terrific post! I generally don’t write fiction but I have been thinking about writing some character studies just for fun. You have got me thinking about the masks I wear with the people I know and the people I meet.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      That sounds like a lot of fun Tracy! I think studying character is a fascinating subject, I would love to hear what you discover. Questioning the masks we wear can lead to some surprising discoveries, and it’s so interesting to study people’s behavior and why they do what they do. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing!

  5. Majida
    Majida says:

    The toughest mask we wear is the one that keeps us from ourselves, because we can’t face the real truth about who we are. This way we focus on what we are not or it makes us think what’s wrong with us. The reason for the mask is to keep us away from success. We are afraid of our success and not failures.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      This is a very interesting perspective, and one that probably requires a much deeper investigation. Though I do feel I understand where you are coming from to an extent. There are some people who fear success much more than failure.

      Failure is predictable and easy, whereas success makes us stand up and stand out. It can be a lonely place and can open us up to much criticism. Rather staying safety connected to what is easy, where we don’t have to shine, when we decide to take a step away from the safety of the group then the pressure is on. Instead of bringing the love that someone craves it can separates us from our loved ones. Choosing to be successful or at least trying, is a risky path and is not without it’s pitfalls. It requires a measure of bravery to step up and believe we are capable of the things that the small still voice within us whispers.

      Thank you so much for sharing such a thought provoking comment, I appreciate your input!

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