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Even the most self-aware among us have found ourselves suppressing our authentic selves under the weight of societal pressures and expectations at some point. The metaphor of ‘donning a mask’ symbolizes the act of concealing one’s genuine persona.

Every stage set, like life, highlights an increasing assortment of masks, and we are not lacking choices. To illustrate how we subconsciously hide our authenticity at times, here are a few archetypes of masks we tend to reach for:

Mask #1: The Appeaser

The appeaser’s mask is the embodiment of consistent self-compromise to please others, often under the burden of guilt or a misguided belief that gratifying others will garner their validation.

The relentless pursuit of pleasing others invariably stands in the way of harnessing our genuine identity. How can you honestly pursue becoming your most Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious, and Authentic self when paying too much attention to what others think?

Letting the opinions of others control how much of your authentic personality comes through, the way you present yourself, what career or business you pursue, or the yardstick you measure your accomplishments against can bring you pain and discomfort.

Any progress you make while chasing someone else’s ideas about who you should be and what you should do will ultimately leave you dissatisfied and depressed. There are far too many stories of people who pursued college degrees and professional positions only to throw them all away later in life when the stress of living under someone else’s idea of what’s “right” finally gets to be too much.

Mask #2: The Herd Follower

The pack mentality is an evolutionary trait common across species, including humans.

Often, the fear of losing standing in the crowd propels people to camouflage their authentic selves under a mask that mirrors the group’s expectations, potentially detrimental to one’s self-esteem and individuality.

Consider the phenomenon of ‘Social Media Influencers.’ They create an aspirational but false idea of who they are and how their lives run based on the number of “likes” they receive on their informational posts. Some influencers can turn their social media “street cred” into actual dollars through endorsements, but what happens when the false mask slips?

Some influencers have seen their accounts implode and income dry up when their mask slips and their “herd” realizes they are not who they’ve claimed to be.

There have even been instances when a member of the “herd” gets overly attached to the object of their affection and becomes a criminal – stalking and even attacking their “hero.”

Mask #3: The Repudiator

Those sporting self-denial masks are engaged in internal combat, refusing to accept their true selves.

This struggle isn’t to appease others, it’s indulged in for fear of realizing and accepting one’s authentic persona, thereby warranting self-compassion, acceptance, and respect. It’s an unhealthy practice that results in quashing your essence and supplanting it with a veneer of denial.

Self-denial can be a part of a healthy life – pushing yourself to achieve a certain milestone or achievement before allowing yourself a reward can be motivation to turn up the heat on your performance. When you refuse to accept your authentic self, you’re setting up for a challenge to your mental and emotional health.

If your self-denial takes the form of denying yourself joy, consider your motives. Denying yourself an unhealthy food, for instance, when you are striving to stick to a low-fat, low-sugar nutrition plan helps to put you in charge of your thoughts and actions and not at the mercy of them. The joy of eating delicious but unhealthy food is outweighed by the negative effect on your physical body, and the lingering negative effect on your emotions after you beat yourself up for indulging.

Self-denial can make you doubt your own perceptions, replacing your thinking and sense of reality with that of another person. Repeating this behavior can damage your ability to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Mask #4: The Subduer

The subduer’s mask muffles the vibrancy of your authentic self.

It’s triggered by a belief that your strong persona might overshadow others and hence you subdue your true personality—be it your actions, words, or general demeanor—to appear more affable and inviting.

Some women will remember being told that their voices were “too loud” so often that they started to restrict the natural volume at which they spoke to conform and be accepted. Others will remember being told that if we wanted boys to like us, we had to act as if we were weaker and less smart than they were in order not to threaten them with our strength or intelligence.

Imagine what a disaster Serena Willams’ tennis career would have been – if it ever got started – if she had listened to those that wanted her to subdue her natural muscularity and athletic prowess to “fit in” with someone ELSE’S idea of what she should look like and how strong she should be.

Mask #5: The Introvert

The introvert’s mask is favored by those who find new atmospheres and people intimidating.

This mask reflects cautious restraint, as it’s considered safer to acclimatize to a new setting before revealing your true identity. The introverted mask allows for careful observation, assessing others, and selective candor.

Introverts tend to be more reflective and creative and may exhibit more independent avenues of thought, while at the same time struggling with social situations and networking. It’s hard to be celebrated for your uniqueness when no one knows about it because you don’t speak up or show your talent.

The pressure on a natural introvert to approach strangers, participate in large group events, or express themselves in an assertive manner can cause stress and a whole host of physical ailments. Introverts are known for being able to work and gather energy from being alone, They are often characterized as good listeners who think before they speak and who make good friends.


If you believe you’ve been wearing a mask in your personal or professional life, one of the first steps to take is acknowledging it and the next is to refuse to beat yourself up for it. Developing a journaling practice can help you to express yourself more authentically while avoiding the stress of speaking in front of a group.

You can also use personality assessments and quizzes to help you deepen your personal knowledge and dig into what is more authentically your method of communication and expressing yourself. the more you learn, the more power you’ll have to stop wearing a mask of any kind and instead present your true self to the world with strength and confidence.

Give yourself the gift of time to learn more about your authentic self and practice expressing what you’ve learned over a period of time. Speaking up more often at work and in groups, indulging in activities that bring you happiness rather than going with the “in crowd,” or reading books on self-esteem and self-worth can all be steps torward your goal of living an authentic life.


Removing the Mask and Living a Diva Style Life

As you gain confidence and deepen your self-knowledge, you’ll feel more comfortable expressing your authentic self and leaving the mask behind. If you’ve never thought of yourself as Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious or Authentic – even if you didn’t use those words – it’s going to take time to start to see yourself that way.

Here are some suggestions for leaning into your definition of DIVA and giving yourself a new baseline to shoot for and grow into.

To fully express these aspects of your personality, consider these approaches:

  • Dynamic: Engage actively in varying activities that challenge different facets of your personality, showcasing your adaptability and energy. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new!
  • Intriguing: Share your unique thoughts and hobbies through blogging or social media, inviting others into your world. If that feels like too much, share them with a friend or supportive family member and expand from there.
  • Vivacious: Wear colors and styles that reflect your lively spirit, and don’t shy away from expressing your emotions and enthusiasm. What colors do you love? What outfits do you recieve compliments on when you wear them?
  • Authentic: Be honest in your interactions, and choose transparency over conformity. Let your true thoughts and feelings be known, and become known for your authentic heart and voice.

By incorporating these strategies, you’ll not only reveal but celebrate your multifaceted personality, inspiring others to embrace their authenticity too.



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About the Author Dianne M Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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