[noun; ~ Pronunciation: /mas-kuh-reyd/]
- Definition: In a way, life is nothing but a giant masquerade. We all wear different masks at different times and occasions to please different people (including ourselves). The question is: who are you really when you put down your social disguise?
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth” – Oscar Wilde
First of all, I want to say the following about The Phantom Of The Opera: it’s magical. The only movie/theatre play I’ve ever seen that’s actually better than the book it was based on. Watch the video clip if you haven’t already or go book tickets for any show near you. Now!
I saw it live in London on my 25th birthday and this song (among many others) still gives me goosebumps (it also reminds me I should watch the DVD some time again soon – <3 Gerard Butler!).
Right, back to business. I was pondering what to write about today, until I was applying a new layer of lipstick while looking at myself in the mirror. I wondered why I put make-up on my lips while having no intention of leaving the house any more today (I was in the process of starting to cook dinner). My answer: no idea.
This morning, before I went to Body Sculpt (another one of the group exercise classes I take. I know, I’m spiralling out of control! – not really, though) I plastered on some mascara before I left. Why? No clue. But even so, it’s impossible for me to leave the house with at the very least a little mascara on my eye-lids.
It’s my mask.
And that’s what got me thinking. About social roles, and acting, and pretending. We all do it! Life is one big masquerade!
When someone asks you how you’re doing, how often do you honestly tell them you’re feeling horrible? Probably never. Unless you’re down at the doctor’s office. And even then many of us lie.
How many times have you faked being happy for someone, while in fact you couldn’t care less? Or the other way around? How many times have you been the actual YOU around others? The person you are when nobody is around, the real you, the core you?
When I’m out with friends, I find myself faking I am cooler than I am. I fake knowledge of the TV shows they talk about, only so I don’t feel left out. Or like a total loser. I try to sing along to the songs they sing along to, but it’s not really me. I only sing when I’m home alone. But around them, I hum as if it’s all I ever do.
Sometimes I hear myself say something. I hear my mouth make up words and sentences my mind didn’t necessarily approve of, as if I am listening to someone else. It’s strange.
The person I am in theory (or the person I think I am in theory) doesn’t always come out when there’s others around. Actually, she only ever shows herself on very rare occasions, usually when it’s just me, one of my best friends, and some alcohol.
The truth is, in practice I put on a mask and pretend I am someone close to the real me, but not quite her exactly. Which is good in some ways (like when you really want to slap someone because they upset you, but you hold back and smile instead), and bad in other situations (e.g. when I’m being patronised and I want to stand up for myself but don’t).
When do you put on what mask and when do you put your disguise down? Does it always happen automatically or is there a manual override? I’d like to find out.
People can change and so can the masks we wear. But we will use them until the end of time, because life is, and always will be, a big masquerade.
So let’s all put on our favourite disguise and burst into song! :D (Really: go see the show. Or at least the movie!)
And then when you get home, all tired and sore from dancing and singing, you can put all your masks down and reveal the real you. Who are you in theory? What happens when you take off your disguise?
Me? I’m just a blonde girl who likes to sing and dance when there’s no one around to watch. Or listen. Or judge.