“And this is how public relations, is an upgraded element of the marketing mix”, my friend concluded her part of our marketing presentation. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1….” I silently counted the last few seconds of her presentation, knowing that it was next, my turn to step up on the podium and present my case study on disastrous PR campaigns.
Those 5 seconds brought out my involuntary physical reactions towards my fear of public speaking. My heart beat rose to a hypothetical Richter Scale of 9.2, my palms started sweating, and my hands started shivering uncontrollably.
I closed my eyes for a second, took a deep breath and walked up to the podium, and that was the right time to use my handy tool, My Mask of Confidence!
“Good morning class, today I will be presenting on……….”; The words tumbled out of my mouth fluently and clearly, my eyes radiated with confidence and my animated hand movements showed spontaneity in my talk.
To my listeners at that moment, I might have seemed very confident and sure of myself but I could still feel that constant expeditious heart beat and those hands which had still not stopped shivering. That’s the power of the mask which I was able to don on at that moment. Stage fright? What is that? That is the question the person in me, wearing the mask would ask! That mask of confidence I wore was spectacular enough to not only deceive the audience sitting in front of me, but also myself.
It’s my defense mechanism which I subconsciously wear hoping that it will embed in me for that moment, and help me to inculcate that missing level of confidence in myself.
The masquerades worn in this context should not be confused for a dual personality or a double-faced person. In fact, believe it or not, we all instinctively don on masks to help us confront our own personal challenges and difficulties.
So what are the situations you end up taking shelter in your façade?
Remember the time, when you were hurt, angry or offended by someone’s comments, or frustrated with a specific situation beyond your control. But you didn’t want others to comprehend that, as they might have mocked you for being overly sensitive. Perhaps you didn’t want to hurt anyone‘s feelings by clearly voicing out your infuriation. So what did you do?
Even though you were seething with rage, you put on the mask, of not being affected by that situation. Hoping that your mask will not let others see through your actual emotions. Hoping, for that particular moment, that you can experience the part of a cool and calm person, unaffected by the circumstances at hand.
Recollect that trying moment, when you could felt your eyes welling up with tears, but you had to hold it back. You were on the verge of succumbing to your personal difficulties and you wanted to let out all that sadness or disappointment you felt. But due to your commitments, the people and the environment around, you could not let those tears flow. At that moment, you took solace under your mask of happiness. Happiness, which didn’t reach the eyes of the person smiling. But at least, the smile, reaching the eyes of the person watching. That is the potential of your mask. It has the ability to tell the world “It’s Okay” even when you know, “It’s Not Okay”.
Smile and recall the time, when you might have encountered an embarrassing moment. Let’s say, tripping down a stair, dropping food on your clothing, spilling your juice or any other situation which has mortified you.
You would have probably cringed red from the inside, but you got up put on a mask of boldness and looked totally at ease, giving people around you the benefit of the doubt. It helped you to not fall prey to incidents not worth fretting about.
The times when you were dreadfully scared or even when you were suffering from some physical ailment, you donned on your mask of courage. Physically you were hurting, but mentally you were healing. It helped you to suppress that fear which might have been expressing itself internally, but not allowing it to voice itself out through your actions,
So is it wrong to use your self-defense mechanism? No, it does not indicate that you have a fake personality or you intend to deceive others through your actions. The mask you adorn to cope with a particular situation consists of that special quality which you lack for tackling that circumstance.
The time we actually remove all our masks and bear our true selves is when we are just about to fall asleep at night. In that darkness of the night, our masks fall out and we are by ourselves. Alone, free to express those emotions that we had earlier covered off. Free to cry to our heart’s content, free to show our anger and frustration in ways of art, poetry, music or even actions like throwing your belongings around. Free to cringe, free to laugh at something which you might have found funny earlier but couldn’t laugh as it wasn’t acceptable in that specific circumstance. You let all those masks fall apart one by one and slumber away in peace, satisfied of successfully covering your inner feelings at the right instance and at the same time relaxed for getting a vent and personal space to express them all out.
Yes fellow readers, your ever-helpful tool, your mask, is by your bedside ready to be picked up and used for the next day when the need arises…..