“You will be what you must be, or else you will be nothing.” — José de San Martín
Masks are dangerous; they don’t merely hide but transform who we are. We become who we impersonate.
The reason why the Venetian Carnival encouraged the use of masks is not what you think. The official celebration began in 1296 as a way to give people, especially the lower classes, a time for fun. Masks guaranteed total anonymity: leveling the social divisions.
The Carnival allowed people to behave freely — to be themselves. Inspired by ancient Greek and Roman festivals, the purpose of masks was to make everyone feel equal. Citizens could safely mock authority and aristocracy in public. But, the intent to vent tensions and discontentment, caused a surprising effect. Masks gave permission for people to free their darkest side.
Soon, hiding one’s identity became the perfect disguise for theft and physical attacks. After sunset, the Venetian Carnival turned into something more sinister: attackers could freely commit robberies or indecent acts.
Masks are tricky: they hide your identity but not your true-self.
André Berthiaume said: “We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
In a world that rewards flawless masks, it’s hard to separate our identity from what we pretend. The masks we wear might seem authentic, but they are just a disguise.
The Paradox of ‘Be Yourself’
“Be yourself — not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” — Henry David Thoreau
Our society tells you: “Be yourself.”
But what does that mean?
We want to be authentic, even if we don’t know what it is. That’s the paradox of the modern version of ‘be yourself.’ Rather than searching within, people are trying to match what ‘authentic’ means to others.