The more masks you wear, the harder it is to remember who you really are beneath them all.Katherine Locke – The Spy with the Red Balloon
I love this quote so much. It comes from the book The Spy with the Red Balloon by Kathrine Locke. It is the incredible sequel to The Girl with the Red Balloon, that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is about two siblings who get recruited to the manhattan project, due to their magical blood. There’s magic, and espionage, and queer relationships!!! What’s not to love about all of that! It takes everything that was great about the first book, and makes it better. I absolutely loved it from start to finish. Absolutely go check it out and give it a read. It stands on its own because it’s not a direct sequel, but is definitely boosted by having already read the first book.
I really love the quote I pulled for this week. I think it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. Everyone ends up putting on a mask at some point. Some people put on a mask to hide their fear. If they show to the world they aren’t afraid, people will look up to them. Others put on a mask to hide from the world. As a trans woman, I put on a mask of masculinity for years and years, just to survive. I was afraid growing up to accept who I really am. I thought “men do this”, “men look like this”, “men talk like this”. So I put on the masks, and pretended to be a man.
Growing up in the 90s, and being in high school and college in the 2000s, being trans wasn’t something you heard about, at least in the midwest. Because of this, my mask of masculinity helped me make it through childhood, my teens, and young adulthood. I was able to pretend to be someone else, and people liked me because I was “normal”. But it was so limiting too. I lost sight of who I was. I played video games to escape reality. I was extremely introverted so I wouldn’t have to show the world I didn’t know who I was. I felt like I had nothing to offer the world.
The problem was the masks. I had lost myself behind them, and the only way out was to rip them off and let the world see who I was. So I came out as trans and began my journey to where I am today. In that time, I’ve learned that I have things to offer the world. I’m more than just that kid that played video games and didn’t socialize much. I’m a strong woman, I love to crochet, and I’m writing about my experiences to show other trans people that there is hope, it’s not all darkness. These are all things I wouldn’t have known, had I hid behind the masks for the rest of my life.
Not all masks are bad all the time. Someone who is introverted has to put on a mask of confidence when in a social setting, but that helps them connect with others! It helps them come out of their shell! Other times, a mask of fear is ok. If you need to spend a night hidden under the covers crying because school or work feels overwhelming, that’s ok! But remember to take the mask off at some point, so you don’t get buried in the negativity that it can bring. Don’t ever forget who you are, because you are amazing, and the world deserves to know that!