Before you begin counting them up, or telling me just how much you hate having to wear them because they are hot and claustrophobic (which they are), this is NOT a blog about the pros and cons of wearing masks in shops and other enclosed spaces!
This is about the masks we sometimes wear in life – the masks we sometimes choose to hide behind. Let me explain further.
I have one major hobby in my life – Amateur Dramatics. I am now in my 28th year of treading the boards, and in that time I have only been a member of two groups, the latter of which I have been with for a massive 24 years. They have become my second family!
Throughout my 28 years, I have had the honour to perform in too many plays to remember, and to direct four plays. People sometimes ask me what my favourite play has been. I really don’t think I have a favourite – I have acted in so many different plays and they have all had their merits.
However, I do have a favourite playwright – Sir Alan Ayckbourn. he is a prolific playwright who has written more than 80 plays. I have had the privilege to direct three of his plays and act in four. I’ve also become a bit of a groupie! I first fell in love with Ayckbourn’s work when I was a student at Cambridge. In those days, students got discounted tickets at the Arts Theatre on a Monday night, so I got to see quite a lot of plays. One night I watched a very young David Jason take the part of Norman in the ‘Norman Conquests’, and that was me hooked. Since then, I have been to see many of his plays, some in his ‘home’ – the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough where he first puts on his new plays in the round.
I have also been to a few ‘audiences’ with Ayckbourn. After one such event, when I hadn’t had the opportunity to ask the question I wanted to ask, I wrote to him. My prize possession is the personal, hand written letter I received back from him. On another occasion, when I had directed one of his plays, I sent him a Christmas card with a copy of the programme inside – and got a Christmas card back. He is my hero, and it will be a very sad day for me when he moves to the theatre in the sky.
Enough! let’s get back to the subject of masks.
Although I have been involved in amateur dramatics for 28 years, I am a definite introvert. I prefer the inner world. My energy comes from inside me. I need private time to recharge my batteries. I prefer one to one communication rather than groups. I prefer listening to talking. All definite introvert traits.
Quite regularly I get asked how I can be so into amateur dramatics, yet profess to be an introvert. How can someone who finds it challenging to be in a group of people, get up on a stage? The answer is simple. Every time I step on that stage, I am not me. I am putting on a mask and hiding behind a personality that belongs to someone else. It’s actually very liberating. I have been able to do all sorts of things as someone else that I wouldn’t do as me.
Wearing a mask is something we do a lot in our day to day lives. To some extent we have to, in that we need to match our personality to our audience. If we are giving a formal presentation, we will be different to when we are talking to a group of friends. If we are chairing a meeting, we will be different to when we are talking to our partner.
Issues only arise when we wear the mask all the time and lose touch with who we are – the real person behind the mask. That’s the time when people start to say: ‘I don’t know who I am any more’, or friends begin to comment that we seem to have changed.
This is where personal profiles are very useful. They probe into the real you. They examine your strengths, your areas for development, your preferred behaviours and how you communicate with others. They make you think about where you are in life and where you want to be. They help you get back in touch with the real you, not the you wearing the mask.
Do please get in touch if you would like to experience a personal profile with follow up. It’s always fascinating to learn more about the real you, especially in the constantly changing world we now live in.
Hazel Wright: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org