This past weekend I was able to spend a day with family and I generally had a good time. It reminded me of other family times, such as a five-day trip to my childhood home in 2013. There were good times then too, but also some not so good times. Trying to wrestle a cranky toddler during an Eagle Scout Ceremony, for instance, but we all lived through them. One thing that I noticed is that each person that I talked to during that weekend had an expectation of who I am. This is not necessarily a bad thing and I must say that I do the same thing, I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t. As I talked and visited with family, extended family, and practically family I realized that some of them were going off of incredibly old information about me and didn’t seem interested in learning anything new and different. At thirty I was just starting to figure myself out for me, but I found myself fitting back into the expected roles that others see in me. To this cousin, I am the wild child with purple hair and a contrary attitude; to that uncle, I’m still an ignorant teen who talks too much, etc. Much of the time I was talked over, which is one of my biggest pet peeves, and I found myself just shutting up and wondering how things would be if those I was talking to were actually listening.

How do you break the masks
Born of the expectations and opinions of others
When you say one thing
And they repeatedly hear another
Is it worth the effort
To take the hammer
And break those masks
Or is it better to just
Walk away
From the expectations and opinions
And from the family
Perpetuating them
To never look back
At the masks

I am trying very hard to break all of the masks that I have made over the years and to not fall back into that trap. The features picture is titled “Pale in Comparison” and I drew it to represent who I am with versus without the masks. I tried to be too perfect in too many situations and it led me to a breakdown. Super-mom couldn’t stand the sight of her kids. Super-wife wanted to strangle the husband. Super-homemaker couldn’t even find the vacuum. So, I locked myself in my room for almost two weeks and growled at anyone who dared to disturb me. The conclusion was that if I was true to myself, broke all the masks, and ignored the expectations of others, then I could be happier. The trick is to figure out who I am under all of the masks. Breaking the masks for myself is fairly easy, breaking them in the eyes of others is another matter and I am sure that the expectations of family, friends, and others will be my biggest hurdle. It’s almost 4 years later, and I still haven’t managed to make any headway.