I recently attended a talk by Dr. Shatki Butler. Although her speech was filled with many thought-provoking ideas, one of the things that stuck with me most was what she said during a thought exercise. She invited us to mentally travel to a place where we felt calm and safe, and to take off our masks.
This struck me, because I realized in that moment that every last one of us has a mask we wear in front of others. Often, we have different masks for family, friends and strangers; masks intended to obscure the real us. I attended this talk with friends, people I knew well, or at least more than most, but I still found myself wondering who they were without the mask.
We get glimpses. Occasional views of the true person underneath.
Dr. Butler moved on, inviting us to search for the one idea that truly defines who we are. The one word that centers us, that we strive to live up to.
For me, that word was kindness. For two of my other friends, that word was love. For another, that word was optimism.
She told us that whatever we are, whatever word drives us, sometimes we are the antithesis of that idea. Sometimes the fear or the hate or the pessimism drags us away from who we are or who we strive to be. When that happens, we must go back to our peaceful place, look back to our driving word and allow it to center us.
We must take off our mask.
I have no idea what I'm doing.