Alanah Winters

Alanah Winters: Compelling fiction

The Masquerade: Everyone is Invited...

While I write my books and the characters in them, I sometimes feel like I’m able to take off their faces and replace them with others. For instance, one minute I could be writing about a young woman with thin corn silk hair and eyes as blue as the Caspian Sea. However the more I write about her, the more that description no longer fits for me. Maybe she curses likes a sailor and has taken a liking to telling people to sod off if they don’t like it. I’m not saying a person that has her looks couldn’t be like that, but in my head she’s now a flaming ginger with wild green eyes with flecks of brown. Because that’s what I’ve decided for her. I will go on to make many other choices, forming her into a full character to play her role in my story.

This line of thought got me thinking about how it fits into real life. In life I see the millions of roles we have to pick from to fit into our societies. Even the act of not choosing a part and idly going through your existence is a role to be had and played out. So basically the choice has to be made and will be made whether we like it or not.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well it’s never that simple. While you’re busy collecting your different roles that eventually add up to being who you’ve decided to become, you also have masks to collect and perfect. What’s the difference from a role to a mask? To me, a role is what we take to be a part of our inner workings as a person. Whereas a mask was ever only meant to be worn over whom we truly are.

I know, so many people would say to let go of the masks and let your uniqueness flow freely while painting a new world and existence for all to see. However, the truth of the matter is, there’s no proper survival without these masks. It’s almost like eating your vegetables; well I’m quite fond of veggies. For me it’s like eating liver and onions, it gives my body nutrients in order to keep on ticking at an optimal level, so I eat it. These masks serve the same function; they allow us to go through life at an optimal level through our dealings with others.

For example, they permit us to show the right face and response to our boss even if he/she deserves otherwise, or deal with most of life’s crappy and/or social situations in a way that keeps us in society’s “acceptable” guidelines. Yes, I’m aware there are exceptions to this rule, but please believe the ones that have decided to break it pay for it in one fashion or another. With that being said, the punishment is sometimes worth it in the eyes of those few.

I believe masks are a necessary evil to keep the flow of society. The only problems I see with them are how nebulous they can become. After a while I think many of us start to mistake our masks for roles and vice versa. Bringing our masks into the inner workings of our being and making them a solid piece of who we are, which only serves to confuse us from our true selves. This confusion seems to then become a breeding ground for doubt, regret and jealousy that taint the masks further. Afterward if we try to remove them, it becomes too painful for us to bear.


So instead, most of us just opt to keep them on. Then there are others that violently tear them away and go raw-nerve naked and unprotected into the big bad world to be eaten alive. This seems just as bad as keeping the mask in place to me. The process I decided on was to take my time, slowly removing the masks that at times get stuck. Yes, this process sucks and hurts like hell, but pain can lead to growth, even if it’s only to learn how not to feel that pain again. After the painstaking process is over, I still have the use of my mask and the knowledge of how to wear it correctly. Some reading this might be thinking that I’m basically telling the world that I’m imperfect and at times, manipulating with my masks that I’m fully aware are in my personality arsenal. And I would say you are correct sir and/or madam. I’m just happy to be in a point of my life to feel strong enough within myself to admit it. My acceptance on this page is also my acceptance of myself, to myself. Granted, there will always be something to work on and work I will, but it’s okay to know that some things will never be perfected to my liking. That’s what one of my masks will cover for me until it’s not needed any longer.

There are no fairytale endings in life and none of us are fairies anyway, so we shouldn’t want their endings. We are human and that makes us complicated and really a messy goop of emotions, wants and needs. And that’s okay. But that side of us isn’t for everyone to see, only the special few. I think if we can find a few people that we can share our mask-less faces with and they can do the same, we’re doing great and on our way to a human-tale happily ever after. Happy ever Saturday everyone!