Every person you meet is hiding behind some kind of mask. Hiding pieces of themselves they don't want you to see. A part of their identity they've decided won't be liked, accepted or welcomed by you or the tribe they want to belong to.
We become very skilful at hiding behind our masks, to the point that we almost convince ourselves it's who we are. With our years of dedicated practice in moulding ourselves to fit in, our mask thickens and we lose touch with the woman within.
At work it shows up like:
pretending we're fine when we're not;
keeping everyone at arms length and then wondering why they won't buy-in as much as we need them to;
attempting to have a difficult conversation but dancing around the problem and nothing changes, again.
In our denial that we could influence outcomes by making a change from within, and instead believing someone else needs to change for things to be better, we give ourselves permission to leave our mask on. It keeps us safe, in familiar territory and avoiding doing the work on ourselves.
Taking the mask off is confronting when we've invested our whole lives in crafting a personality to show the world. Even several personalities we use to fit into different areas of our lives - one mask for family, one for friends, one for work, sometimes even one for our intimate partner.
But at some point the masks begin to crack and where once we could conveniently hide behind our pretence and projection, now we can't silence the inner fight between our heart and our mind.
It's at this time, we begin to look in the mirror and face the untruths we've been telling ourselves for so long. The deceptions that we're not enough, that we need to tone ourselves down so others aren't intimidated, that we need to puff ourselves up to be heard, that we need to be perfect to be accepted or liked.
When we look long enough in the mirror of self-awareness, behind the cracks we see our true selves - the gorgeous quirks, the rich beauty, the deep love and our unique gifts.
This then becomes our own personal moment of truth - do we look away, plaster up the cracks and continue hiding behind the mask while keeping everyone at arms length?
Or do we look deeper into the mirror and courageously peel away the layers that no longer match the vision of the woman we know we are and want to be?
We know what it feels like to hide ourselves away. It's easy but it's empty.
We may not remember so well what it feels like to be who we really are because we've been listening to the noise in our minds rather than the voice in our hearts for so long.
But that mask is old now and the new way of leading, living and loving is from the heart - our responsible, courageous and discerning heart.
It begins with peeling back one layer and being willing to step into the unknown, one moment at a time.