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During the Halloween season, it is not uncommon to see a selection of over-the-top costumes and people creating ways to conceal their image. This tradition means a variety of things to people, but for the most part it is done out of a sense of having fun, getting candy, and hanging out with friends. In these situations, many times we aspire to be the unique, creative, or funny versions of ourselves.

Unfortunately, though, this is not the only time of year that many of us choose to put on a mask to conceal ourselves.

Wearing a mask and presenting it to people around us can happen in our daily lives. This happens when we produce some type of false image that paints us in a different light than how we truly feel. Sometimes this is simply a way of keeping our unhappiness from being seen by others or because we are having a rough day. Others work to create a complete new persona to replace their original one that they dislike. This may be due to a variety of situations that have occurred throughout our lives that cause feelings of shame.

There are times when people simply don’t like who they are or the situation they came from. Maybe someone grew up in a crappy situation with parents who were not supportive, or they were the awkward kid with few friends and bad school pictures. Like many of us, they may have grown up not feeling comfortable with themselves due to forbidden attractions to others or body image issues. Being the queer kid was not a happy, supportive time for most of us. Instead of working to heal from those difficult times growing up, there are people that feel it’s a better option to simply hit the delete button and begin to sculpt their own version 2.0 of themselves that can replace the old one.

This new creation is designed to make us feel better about ourselves since the old image is undesirable. This new version will hopefully gain us more friends, acceptance, love, opportunities for fun and sex, better social standing, and improved self-esteem. We can finally look in the mirror and see what we consider a better form of ourselves. Unfortunately, these “cover ups” aren’t truly who we are. When we look at this new person, we know that this creature looking back at us is just a false image of someone we have created to shroud the one that we feel others won’t like or accept. The undesirable either needs to be exterminated or at least locked away in a dank dungeon. We need to do everything possible to not have to face our old life that brings up such negative feelings about ourselves.

In these situations, people fear being found out that they are lying to others and that they wouldn’t be accepted if people knew the truth. Threats exist everywhere that can cause terror. You can attempt to destroy every horrid picture of yourself, delete your old friends from social media, and pray that questions aren’t asked about your early history. An entirely new image may appear to get you what you want, but you know the person inside. Ultimately, we are who we are and we can’t easily run away from ourselves. Instead of spending effort to stomp out the person we don’t like, we should take the effort to embrace our history and experiences to work on improving the parts of us we don’t like. The friends we make who know the true version of ourselves will like us, not a costume that we create to conceal our true selves.