During our last staff meeting, we decided that we would come up with a prompt for each month. For this month it’s anything Halloween related. First it was specifically costumes, to which my brain immediately responded to because I already knew that I wear many costumes every day, of course in a metaphorical sense, and at that point my brain had already begun formulating this blog post.

When I was younger I put on many different faces for many different people. I think I might of even had a different mask for every person in my life. As I’ve gotten older the number of “costumes” has gone down in that I have found that I need to wear costumes for certain groups of people, and not each person specifically. Now I have about five or six costumes: one for my family, one for coworkers, one for my friends, one for my teachers, and one for my closest friends. I am never without a mask, which begs the question: Who am I?

I remember reading Montaigne’s essays and learning about how he used himself as a test case for issues around the world. He would ask himself how something makes him feel and assess what this feeling says about him as a human being.  In trying this out for myself, I have found that I am someone who is easily swayed by my surroundings, I am someone who can easily understand and accept someone else’s opinions.

So what does that say about the person I am when I’m not wearing any masks? When I am alone? When I have no one for whom to pretend? As a girl, my parents raised me to listen to other people and to do what they want. But what if the majority are people who don’t abide by the same belief system as my parents? My parents told me to do what will make people happy so I can succeed, and now I am doing that. But it is not what they had in mind: they said to me that a girl needs to fit in, she needs to conform because she is nothing more than her reputation. So when I wear skinny jeans, t-shirts and such, isn’t that right? Because I am conforming like they told me to? In their eyes it’s not: they wanted me to be a good Muslim girl but they raised me in America.

This conundrum that I carry with me infiltrates all my thoughts. When am I myself, if ever? The other day I had a conversation with my coworker and we both ultimately agreed that we don’t feel as if we fit in anywhere. For me, I think it might be because I have been conditioned to be whatever the situation requires me to be because if I don’t do that, there will be more serious consequences. This has, as I am beginning to realize, begun to have a detrimental effect on me. I literally have no idea who I am and what I truly stand for because of this paradox that is my life. What do I stand for? Who do I believe in? My answers to these questions are absurdly vague and unsatisfying.

I have gotten to the point where I feel as if I will be spending the rest of my life wearing masks, and maybe we all do. Maybe the person I am is a mask that has been created for me by my surroundings, my family, and friends. I guess the question now is if I will ever be comfortable wearing that one in front of any person or group of people. I do not know if this is the case, or if I will ever have an answer to this. But all I can do is hope that I can one day wear one mask to everyone.

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