It’s Halloween night, which means our neighborhood is filled with kids wearing costumes and hoping to fill their buckets with sugary treats. I wandered house to house chatting with my neighbor as our children ran ahead filled with excitement singing, “It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!”. As usual, there are all sorts of costumes from fairy tales and cartoons to darker, more gruesome figures. Some costumes come with masks, wigs, or hoods, intending to transform the individual into the character of his or her choice.
These transformations at Halloween are simply for fun (and let’s be real – for candy!). However, there are times at work when you believe you must alter or hide your true self too. You think you have to fit a specific mold in order to continue your career path, or you feel you must refashion yourself, that your authentic self is not enough.
Think back on your career journey. When have you worn the proverbial mask? How long were you able to maintain the disguise? If you went too far off of your true self, you probably didn’t last very long. There’s a distinct difference to the “Fake it until you make it” mentality to bolster your confidence while you are developing a skill set vs acting in a way that is misaligned to your core style and sense of self.
If you find that you are hiding behind a mask, you are working too hard against your natural gifts and abilities. Each one of us has unique talents that we bring to the work table. When you tap into those innate strengths and neutralize your weaknesses, your authentic self shines brightly. You can let go of those feelings of self-doubt. You can drop the mask and embrace what makes you “you”.
This is an ongoing process, not a one and done. You must continually examine and encourage yourself to be true to who you are, while still being respectful to those around you. It is easier to hid behind the mask, but life is too short to keep the mask on indefinitely. Rather than hiding your light behind the mask, allow the world to see the beauty that you bring to it through your God-given gifts and through perspective that only you can share.
My challenge to you: Look this week at those situations where you find yourself using the mask. How can you step out from behind it just a little more so others can benefit from your authentic self?