I’ve got a wig. You’ve got a wig. All God’s children got a wig.
Or a hat, for my fellas that like fitted’s and fedoras.
And I’m not talking about hair. I’m talking about that thing you put on before you face the outside world to feel better about yourself, or make other people feel better about you.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a wig “as a manufactured covering of natural or synthetic hair for the head.” (Alternatively, a hat is defined as “a covering for the head usually having a shaped crown and brim.”) We wear these head coverings for many reasons, like fashion, protection from the outside elements or manipulation and stress, or even to disguise ourselves.
But what does this have to do with real life?
Just like people wear physical wigs and hats, almost all of us have something we put on each day to enhance our inner beauty, or mask things we don’t particularly like. For example, we may put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. in spite of human nature. Some people use material items and social status to cover up their insecurities about who they are. Others hide tears behind a smile.
In my case, I’m guilty of wearing a “happy” wig. I have had many people describe me as stoic. My friends have heard me remark that nonchalance is a hallmark of my disposition. I pride myself on not panicking and keeping an even temperament under stressful conditions, but unfortunately, I have allowed it imprison me. Somewhere along the way, I learned to keep everything close to the vest and that is wasn’t okay to be anything other than “okay”. At times I still feel that people count on me to be sunny side up at all times. I have been conditioned to feel it is unsafe to be honest about how I’m doing. There are many times I have taken I a chance and made myself vulnerable about being depressed or stressed out or uneasy about life, and instead of being met with support, I have been scolded or ridiculed.
I’ve learned that most people have an intolerance for other people’s unhappiness, and do not have the ability to compartmentalize it and know the difference between general frustration and negative outlook (but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) I’ve also had people attempt to manipulate or take advantage of me in that vulnerable state. So, I learned to wear a “happy mask” in public. Often times, people will ask me how I’m doing, and I automatically tell them I’m fine, even if I’m not. Now that I’m cognizant of it, I try to be honest within reason. My sanity depends on it.
Like real wigs, if we don’t take care of what’s underneath, they can do more harm that good. Some people are so attached to their “wigs” that no one knows what they really look like, not even them. It’s easy to let the outward image we portray distance us from reality. By the time we finally peel it off, it’s too late and the damage has been done.
Let’s Get Wigless!
I am challenging myself to take the following steps on the journey to wigless-ness, and I hope you’ll join me.
- Identify your “wig.” Be real with yourself. What do use to put your best face forward and why? Is it truly for self-improvement? Is it for insecurity or fear? If you discover that you’ve been living behind a facade to appear better or for fear of being hurt, don’t worry. Acknowledgement is the first step in the right direction.
- Get “wigless” with others. Go ahead, let yourself breeeaaathe! Get in community with a person or group of people who you are safe and free to be yourself with. Typically, these will be people who are “wigless” with you. They keep it real, natural, and relaxed with you.
- Wash, rinse, and condition yourself. Deal with the underlying issue, whether it be past hurt, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, etc. Take steps to truly release what it is that keeps you from being yourself, flaws and all. Pray, seek counseling, talk it out. Cry it out. It’s okay. As we confront and deal with the things that weigh us down, we can condition ourselves, one day at time, to not need those crutches or masks we hide behind. DAILY WORK.
How do you feel about being wigless? Let me know in the comments below!