LGM x How I Met Your Style: “The Masquerade Is Over” [November 21st, 2011]
Every working morning, for as long as you can remember, a stranger’s face has stared back from your bathroom mirror’s reflection. Occasionally, your eyes make contact when it glances back at you. The brief cold of a ghost’s presence. A momentary acknowledgment in the rear-view mirror…as you are chauffeured along in the backseat that has become your life. Like a laugh, too loud, from the back of a movie theater. Like a telling string dangling from a magician’s sleeve. A fleeting reminder…that Everything Is Not In Its Right Place.
We commute from one social landmark to the next, like falling debris. Careening wherever the winds of opportunity take us, as pieces of ourselves are smashed against the shore. Against the waves, we are anchored by our titles. Anchored by our degrees. Secured by the weight of social status. Bound to the sense of privilege which will eventually sink us when we no longer have the will to keep up. The constant pressure to tread water. The unsubtle urge that we are not doing enough, if we aren’t doing more than those who are in the lanes next to us. The guilt of having the world on our plates, as we grow to despise it more with every force-fed bite.
On the way up the ladder, life is like a back-room card game…and we’ve been taught to wear a poker face. A mask that says: “I want what you want.“…”Everything is fine.” and “Of course. How much further backwards can I bend to help you?” with one glance. Underneath, the eyebrows furrow. The inner fists clench, and the grin begins to grimace. A voice says to you: “…you know, if you keep making that face, it’ll stay that way.“ In response, you laugh to keep from crying.
How much longer can we pretend? How much more of ourselves will we burn out, while wasting away as fuel and fumes for someone else’s engine? A slumbering leviathan; your true purpose brims below the surface. Announcing itself like a telephone that rings endlessly; stopping only when your fingers encircle themselves around the receiver. Like a recurring dream that holds the Answer to Everything. It’s silhouette slender and shrugging behind the curtain of your eyelids. Always on the verge of whispering the punch line before you awake.
For some, there is comfort in the linear life. For some, the adulation that comes with a nameplate and corner-office is sufficient sustenance. They want it so bad, they might cry. This is the prescribed and pre-arranged method to happiness. Perhaps they aren’t plagued by the ever-present sense that they were made for something better. Perhaps they are, but choose to paint within the lines nonetheless. Maybe they’ve opted to compete for the inconsolable consolation prize: a successful but unfulfilled existence.
If you’re frightened, you can be. It’s okay. But one thing becomes clearer every day. The more of ourselves we allow to be smothered, the less of us there will be when we finally come up for air. A day will come when you decide to claw your way out of the deep sleep. A day will come when you decide to stop living as a facsimile. The masquerade is over. Make sure they see your face.