Even with more time to reflect and plenty of communication with those like me, I still have no idea where I begin and end. I wear so many masks with so many people, that I am left wondering if I am ever unmasked and, if I am, who she exactly is. I know that I am not compassionate nor empathic. I know that I am not a grateful nor appreciative person. I know these things because I am all too aware of the great, and forced, energies that I have to channel in order to appear as such to other people. I realize that I can lie and manipulate and deceive. I know where my motives lie and how to achieve the small goals I have at any given moment. None of this tells me what I truly am, however. Just because I force myself to appear a certain way or that I am able to channel certain behaviors to great effect does not mean that any of these are, or are not, my true state.
I want to think of my true self as existing outside of the realm of interaction with others. All interaction is driven by needs and wants for me. In the presence of such, wouldn’t any interaction require a mask of some sort? Whether it is a mask of fearlessness or of loving care, there has to be some external picture given to the person I am engaged with. Maybe my fearlessness is a natural trait, but I still choose to present that. Even if it is at a subconscious level, there is still choice. As such, I would think that every interaction with another demands some mask. And, I think that every person wears some mask in this regard; we are a species driven by our own wants and needs. Even a paper thin mask is still a mask.
Maybe this focus on masks is what troubles me in searching for identity. Does the vocabulary need to restrict the term ‘mask’ to the representation of a conscious façade presented for misdirection? Given that restriction, then, no, not everyone wears a mask at all times. Under this definition, it is still not obvious when I am masked. I can tell when I am cloaked from others’ gazes, but not from my own. What if I am hiding myself from myself? What if I cannot see past my own mask when I look in the mirror?
Like the actor that incorporates the many characters they have played into their own person, I fear that my chameleon-like abilities have resulted in myself becoming some amorphous being with no true shape. I don’t know that I will ever know exactly who I am. It is like I am a participant in a shell game with no ball. I can watch the juxtaposition and permutations of the shells whizz by, but no matter which one I pick, I am still unable to find what I am searching for. No matter how many times I try, there will always be the knowledge that the lines have blurred to the point to where I do not know who lies behind the mask.