As a kid, I used to love the M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) toys and cartoon! It combined the worlds of G.I. Joe and Transformers into one amazing toy lineup. Ordinary vehicles that “transformed” into battle vehicles. M.A.S.K. battled against the evil organization V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). To this day I can still remember getting into a fight with my sister over the TV. We would have to take turns choosing which cartoon or show to watch. I wanted to watch the next episode of M.A.S.K. continued from the day before and she wanted to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!? Seriously? Ugh! Mister Rogers was a super awesome guy, but come on. This was M.A.S.K.!! How can you even compare? Unfortunately, after a heated exchange, my mother was brought in and justice turned a blind eye as I had to suffer through an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and never find out what happened to the heroes of M.A.S.K.
I recently sold all my M.A.S.K. toys that I’ve been saving since childhood. (I still may have a few available, if you’re interested!) Another thing that was really cool was that each action figure came with a mask. These masks not only concealed their identity, but also gave the wearer a special ability! (Now we’ve added super powers to the mix! It just keeps getting better!!)
So what does this have to do with my life here and now in my forties? Selling these toys got me thinking about masks in general and why you and I wear them. A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. And let’s be honest, we ALL wear masks of some kind. It’s probably not to fight crime, but each mask we “put on” is for a specific reason.
PROTECTION – Most of us have been hurt in the past, and probably by someone we were or are still close to. It’s painful and we’ll do anything we can to protect ourselves from being hurt again. So we put on a strong emotionless mask. Nothing can get through it. But that also leaves us severely lacking when it comes to loving others and being vulnerable. True and intimate relationships are extremely difficult without honesty and vulnerability.
DISGUISE – Sometimes we just want to hide. It’s too hard to be around people, especially people we don’t like and don’t get along with. We disguise ourselves with busyness and excuses. Some people love selfies. For me, I’ve never liked the way I look in photographs. Why do you think Snapchat and Instagram Story filters are so popular?? We don’t want people to see the real us, so we put on a mask to disguise what we really look like, act like, feel, etc. It’s just another form of protection.
PERFORMANCE/ENTERTAINMENT – Sometimes we hide the pain we are feeling with a mask of performance. On the outside, everything looks great. We seem happy. Maybe even the life of the party, but we overcompensate. Things aren’t going well. Money is tight. Your marriage is falling apart. You’re struggling with an illness or diagnosis. Deep inside we’re hurting. It’s all a facade. If we were to take off our performance mask, we have people in our lives who genuinely care and walk with us through our dark times. It just takes that first step on our part.
So what mask/masks are you wearing? For myself, I’ve worn all of these masks at one time or another. Some days, I’ve worn all three at once. Take a look in the mirror this week and see what mask you are wearing. It’s probably time to take it off. You’ll never have the kind of relationships you truly desire as long as that mask is in the way!
For my fellow 80s kids, here’s the theme song for the M.A.S.K. cartoon. Enjoy!