Behind the Mask…

I spent the day with my children yesterday walking the streets in search of Halloween treats.  It seems to me, with every new year, there are more and more children dressed up and wandering around, door to door, to fill up their baskets of candy.  My kids went as the Mario Brothers.  They seemed to get a pretty good response from passers-by as they passed other trick-or-treaters on the streets.  You should have seen them with the big mustache that covered a large part of their face.  I couldn’t help but smile when I caught some of the responses of people as they walked by.

While my kids had a simple costume, you could tell who they were by looking at them.  Some children were completely covered in a body suit.  Whether they were going as a gorilla, a race car driver (complete with helmet), or any other costume requiring a mask, I couldn’t tell who these kids were.   Some of the kids who passed by waved at us, but I couldn’t recognize them.  The only thing I knew about these kids was what outfit they had on.  I could recognize the mask, but beneath it, the mystery loomed.

I think we all wear a mask from time to time.  Obviously, I am not speaking of a literal mask.  I am talking about something that covers us, and makes outsiders recognize us in an entirely different light than the people we reveal ourselves to.  Many of us wear masks to hide our imperfections when we are around other people.  By wearing a mask we can become unrecognizable.  We can hide the part of us we don’t want people to see.  We can become another person.

Why do we all have to do this to seek another’s approval?  Shouldn’t we find comfort in ourselves and walk boldly in front of the crowd?  I think the world would find itself in a better place if some people would take off their masks.  While my mask may suggest I am a young, happy father of two kids who lives a comfortable life as a reporter in the county I live in, I struggle.  My life is not easy.  When I think about it, I don’t know if any single aspect of my life has been easy.  Although some people may look at me and see failure, if they had walked in my shoes and been in places I have been in life, they might begin to believe I am a great story of success.  What makes success?  To be honest, I must say the answer to that question is still up for debate, at least in my head.  What I can tell you is that the prettiest mask you can wear will not change your leve l of success.  Your mask will not make you better.  It is solely dependant upon the drive of the person under the mask where you will go in this life. 

Take off your mask.  Nobody wants to see a lie.  People want to know the real you.  They will only respect the real you.  Your mask can’t earn respect, and while people may respect your lie, it is a matter of time before the mask proves its inability to carry your load.  You are better without the mask.  Your progress will come when you lay it down and move forward without it.  Regardless of your position in this life, wherever you may be, your mask will never go further than you carry it.  It is your footsteps that get you where you going in life.  Throw down the mask, and walk on.

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Act your age…

I had a difficult time trying to get my kids ready for school this morning.  My oldest son, who is eight-years-old, is constantly making noises, singing or talking.  Sometimes this can become very annoying very quickly and cause me to yell at him.  I don’t know how many times I have had to tell my son to act his age.  What I think I am missing about the whole thing is that he is eight.  He is not old enough to be an adult or act like I am.   I rememeber when I was young, I always acted similar to the way he acts now.  I enjoyed singing or making noises.  It was fun to run in the house or climb the walls.  I am not saying that it was permitted.  I just knew it was fun and did these things when I felt I could get by with them.  I wonder when I yell at my children to act their age, if what I am really saying is, “act my age.”

I often wonder if I am failing as a parent.  I can’t help but wonder if I am good enough or if I provide the necessary needs that should be provided for a young one.  I have been divorced for over three years now and it seems the further I go, the more I realize, I am not a mom.  It is easy to be a dad.  I enjoy the role.  Most of the dad traits just come naturally to me.  But to be a mother . . . not so much.  I struggle to give them what they need and can only hope that what little bit of good I can instill in them will grow in them, causing them to be great when they get older.

Now, I look at myself.  Do I act my age?  Am I as mature as the common 29-year-old man?  I want to tell myself that I am.  I can’t help but see all the areas where I am lacking though.  I am not acting my age.  I am acting like someone who doesn’t have it together.  Sure, I am stretched to the limit with my hands and feet spread apart, clinging to what little bit of life, peace, hope and happiness I can hold on to, but in the end, I feel I have fallen behind and not only is it a struggle to act my age, but to be my age.  I fail.  I fail regularly.  Is it this failure in me that has caused me to redirect my children when they act like me?  The very things that make up who I am is the things I try to change about my children.  I wonder if it is fear that they will one day become me, and fail in the same way that I have.

The outcome of my life is still under my control.  I may seem to old to change my ways, but this old dog is going to learn new tricks.  I am ready for a different life.  A life where my kids can look up to me and feel proud to be my son.  A place where my kids can be themselves without fear of getting reprimanded for it.  I love my children.  Really, they are my life.  Without them I am nobody.  They have shaped in me the very essence of who I am.  With all that they have given to me, I feel it is time to give back.  My kids shouldn’t teach me, I should teach them.  I am their father.  It’s time to act my age.

Mirror, Mirror…

It’s funny how much the losers in so many movies remind me of myself.  I don’t completely understand why I feel this way, but I always seem to share similar attributes with the characters in the movies who seem to have no luck at all.  Is it that I am a loser myself, which makes it easy for me to relate?  Maybe it is that I am that guy who can’t seem to get it together no matter how hard he tries.  Truth is, I think I am that man.  But why are these movies so popular?  Are there more people out there, like myself, who fall into this very same category?  Maybe we all have these insecurities about ourselves.  I think Hollywood is aware of our insecurities.  Writers and producers always seem to try to paint the picture of their main characters as the common man.  If this is true, I may not be as alone as I think I am in this world.  Maybe we all see ourselves in dim light.

I can remember times in my past that I looked at my situation in life and thought to myself, ‘Nobody will ever want to be with someone like you.’  I have thought this about relationships, friendships, jobs, you name it.  I have felt failure in ever category imaginable.  I find it funny though because I also like myself.  I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘You’re not so bad.  In fact you’re kind of cute, and funny, and just an amazing person who anyone should love to be with.’

Our insecurities shape who we become in the public eye.  People never want to be around someone who doesn’t like themself.  Question is, how can somebody like themself when no one around them treats them respectfully as a person.  It’s a double delimna.  It’s a scale that is hard to balance.  I don’t think as many people view us unfavorably as we might make ourselves believe.  We are just as much the perfect person in the movie as we are the loser.  This all depends on whose eyes we are looking through.  I would like to think that other people see me the way I see myself when I look in the mirror with encouraging thoughts.  Maybe we aren’t all that bad.  We should find courage in the promise we see in ourselves.

The next time you look in a mirror, don’t see the person that is a failure.  You are not a failure.  If anyone can look at you and tell you that you aren’t good enough to make the cut, I can say pretty assuredly, the same person who tells you that is struggling to make the cut themself.  We all deal with issues of insecurity.  It is the people who look in the mirror and believe the positives thoughts, who overcome these insecurities.  You are not a loser.  You are not a failure.  I look at my own life and worry about the areas where I have failed.  While sometimes that is a sad story, it still doesn’t make me any better or worse than the next person.  We all make good choices, we all make bad choices.  No one is immune.