Last week, while in the supermarket, I ran into a friend. While we exchanged pleasantries and she asked how I was doing, I began to wonder if she really wanted to hear how I am. Truthfully, I wanted to share exactly how I was feeling—the good, the bad, and everything in between—and hoped to receive the same from her. But really, how authentic are we these days? With Purim coming quickly, this has me thinking about the masks we wear, sometimes daily.
I wish we could be more authentic, but society has made this difficult. We are so accustomed to interactions that are easy but not necessarily real. Before my friend was in recovery from cancer, I never expected her to tell me that she felt fabulous when I asked how she was feeling, just as I can’t imagine she ever expected to hear me say that I felt fabulous while I was in the depths of my depression. But, is it easier to respond with that fabulous retort? You bet. Is it better to answer truthfully? I think so. By being open and honest, you reveal an aspect of yourself that only brings you and your friend closer in your relationship.
We live in such a fast-paced time and it is easy to get stuck in that notion of “moving things along.” It may be, however, at our own expense. How can we truly relate to one another if we are masking who we are? Just as Queen Esther unmasked her true identity as a Jew way back in Shushan, it seems we should all be that brave and express who we are—both the positive qualities and the not so positive qualities (or in Esther’s case, the not so accepted qualities).
I am now doing my best to practice this, and it has already made a difference in my relationships with my husband, daughter, other family, and friends. It has opened up these connections in a meaningful way, which I never experienced before due to my own mask hiding my true self.
Perhaps instead of donning costumes and masks for Purim this year, we should take off the ones we wear every day. Why can’t we celebrate the happy ending of the Purim story where the Jews are saved and they no longer need to hide their identities? I would prefer to be myself and celebrate how far we have come as a people. If I am simply myself, I do not need to plan out my “costume” or demeanor. I simply get to be myself. Now that’s something worth celebrating.