Take off your mask – By @carlyillston

By Carly Illston


Take off your mask


Something that Patrick Collister mentioned today in his masterclass really resonated with me. He asked us to raise our hands if at any point in our lives we had felt different, or like we didn’t fit in. The majority of the KRAK intake raised their hands, myself included. We know how it feels to 

Part of our animal instinct, or monkey brain, encourages a herd mentality. If you weren’t part of the pack, you would die. We had to fit in to ensure our survival. But sadly 3 million years of evolution hasn’t been quite enough to leave these instincts behind. 

On top of these instincts, we have spent decades forming schemas and learned behaviours by observing the role models that were placed in front of us when we were growing up. Children’s brains are like sponges, observing and absorbing far more information than we would expect. 

We learn gender roles very early on, observing the roles of our parents or family members. We learn the most successful women are the ones on the front of magazines with a size 0 was it and double D boobs. We watch kids being picked on for wearing clothes that are a season out of style, or for having a different haircut, or accent, or anything about them that is even remotely different to their classmates. 

It’s no surprise that children adhere to the herd mentality when they have observed the outlier of the class being teased time and time again. After all, the sheep that doesn’t follow the herd gets eaten by the wolf. 

We learn that we have to look and act a certain way to be accepted. We put on a mask to disguise our true feelings. We wordlessly adopt the guidance of influencers, who rule our wardrobe and our relationships and our aspirations. These learned behaviours are incredibly difficult to erase, as we have spent decades of our lives building them. And it’s even harder to retrain our brains to allow ourselves to drop the mask, and live as our authentic selves. 

Patrick went on to tell us that we were right. We were different, and in fact, we still are. Of course we’re all different. We are culminations of our life’s choices, of our parents choices and their parents choice before them. We are shaped by every 2am phone call, every birthday card received, every school trip to the science museum, every Netflix binge, broken heart, spontaneous decision made, risky text sent, and chocolate cake baked. We are all intricately woven pieces of a tapestry much larger than ourselves. And that is beautiful. It’s time to leave the masks for Halloween. Trust me, you don’t need it. 

The phrase goes that you can’t choose family, but Marc chose ours. And he chose each one of us not despite our differences, but because of them. 

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