Masks. Why do we wear a mask and do we need to? What happens if we show our real selves to the world?
This was a recent topic in the This is Me online group. I asked this question to the group and rather than workshop a real story from one of the girls, we decided to use a made-up scenario.
It was suggested that we might wear a mask when we are new to a school. We might feel that because we are new, we have to “hide ourselves” a bit until we’re feeling confident and comfortable with the other kids, which is perfectly normal! I’d say this is even a healthy way to go about things. You’d be tuning into your environment, feeling the waters so to speak before jumping right in!
So why would you be new to a school? Well you might have to change schools for some reason, maybe things weren’t working out at one school, or you’ve moved areas, or if you are a bit older, maybe you’ve finished primary school and are moving onto high school.
So we made this story about someone at the new school (the antagonist) making comments in front of others about what you (the protagonist) is wearing, your choice in clothes.
When we workshop a story it’s important that we have a lead character (the hero so to speak), that is you! and what we call an antagonist (the villain/enemy). In our stories, it may not be a classic villian/enemy type person but just someone who might be stirring up a bit of trouble for us, and that we’d like to change. No we can’t change them, but we can change how we respond and talk to them.
We decided to play the scene with a focus on the other person. The person who makes a comment about what your wearing, the person who is making you feel conscious or bad about your choices, questioning you, and pointing things out in front of others. We honed in on making this just one person, even though in a real-life situation you might be wearing a mask because of being new to a whole group of people….. In our stories for change, we need to have just one person as the antagonist so we can role-play the story with single characters talking to each other.
So first of all, we talked about what might be going on for this person. Why would they need to bring someone else down by making comments about what they are wearing?? We then played and re-played the scene a few times with different ideas on what to say and do that came from our discussion.
Here are the main points we discovered that might help you in this type of situation:
1. People who bring others down often feel insecure about themselves
Often a way for some people to feel good about themselves, is to bring someone else down. For some reason this inflates (think of a balloon) their good feelings about themselves. They might do this in front of others so that everyone else sees how “tough” they are. It’s not a particular fun or healthy way to feel good about yourself, but if this happens to you, it’s good to remember and think about this. This is not about you and who you are as a human being, this is about them and their own insecurities.
2. Make a positive comment about yourself, then walk away!
In our role-playing, the girls felt quite okay to speak up for themselves. Yay! This may not be as easy in real-life but at least they were getting practiced in a safe environment. What they didn’t feel comfortable doing, was acting the part of the “mean” person. That’s kind of good too! It can be good though to have this experience even if you don’t like it, as it gives you a bird-eyes view into being a different type of person. That’s the beauty of drama.
Some of the comments said in scenes that might be helpful to you were,
“Well I really like what I am wearing. I feel comfortable in this.”
“Does it even matter what I am wearing? I like my…. (whatever it might be).”
Then, just walk away.
3. Keeping it about you
Another discovery was how easy it is to do exactly what the other person is doing. Like start making comments about what they are wearing using the Why question. The Why question is one of those questions that can easily get people on your wrong-side. It can make people feel like they have to defend themselves. So the tip here is to use “I” statements and keep it about you. When standing up for yourself, avoid falling into the trap of questioning them with,
“Well, why are you wearing that hat (or whatever)… ?”
All this does is bring them down too and can just end up going back and forth. I know you might be thinking that they don’t deserve anyone being nice to them but this is about taking care of you in a way that deflates (think of that balloon again) the situation quickly. They don’t have much to go on if you do this!
It’s a wrap
So this is just one example of the reason we might wear a mask. I’m sure there are many others you can think of? Make a comment below about our mask story or share one of your own. We’d love to hear from you.