by Anne Day
Recently I was asked to speak at a MoMonday where you basically talk for ten minutes, almost improv – no notes, just you and the mike. I got myself into quite a knot over this, working myself up into a tight ball of nervous energy.
But apart from close friends who knew about my nervousness, few would know. You see I have a mask I wear to disguise how I feel inside. I wear it quite often actually, not just around public speaking, but whenever I feel uncomfortable, inadequate or out of place.
And you know what… I am not alone. As Amy and I interview women for our book, more and more we are learning that many of us wear a mask at one time or another. From the outside, we look cool, calm and collected, conveying nothing of the turmoil and fear we feel deep inside.
It’s not just around work either. I remember when I became a parent the first-time-around, I felt I had to seem as if I knew what I was doing. I didn’t. I was so scared that I was going to wreck this small child. It wasn’t until I met some mothers who were real and upfront about their feelings of inadequacy, that I relaxed in the knowledge that it wasn’t just me.
We can all likely remember the mother who boasted that her child slept through the night from day one, walked at nine months and was toilet trained at a year. Right. Regardless of whether this was actually true or not, when you are the novice, it just serves to increase your feelings of failure; that you don’t measure up in the parent track.
Yet, when we share our concerns and challenges, without fail, we discover others feel the same way. It is this need to be perfect, to seem perfect, that denies us the opportunity to find solace and support from others who are experiencing the same moments of inadequacy.
For that is all they are – moments. We’ve all lost our cool with our kids; we’ve all said something we regret, we’ve likely had moments when we don’t like our children much but does that mean we have permanently damaged them? I don’t think so. They are much more resilient than we think.
When we share our vulnerabilities, two things happen. We leave ourselves open to much-needed help and support, and second we start to crack that mask of perfection.
While you may feel safer with your mask, just think about what you are missing. It doesn’t allow you to take risks so you shine and share your brilliance with the world. Be authentic, get real, because then you can become the person you are meant to be.