Behind the Mask


I guess we all wear several masks, we all have multiple personalities that we reveal to others at various times in our lives. Whether it is our professional work persona; our happy-go-lucky family persona or our hide away in the back of a really dark cupboard when our heart is breaking persona, we have all seen them, and we all hide them away.

I consider myself to be quite shy and an introvert. I am more than happy in my own company and can usually be found hiding away in my little part of Cornwall creating something. This can be through the written word, playing with pieces of fabric or wool or messing about in the kitchen or the garden. The art of creation makes me happy, the giving away of those creations also has this effect, even more so when I am allowed to witness the pleasure one of my creations has given to its recipient. For instance, we have just finished our evening meal and on biting into his first mouthful of roast potatoes, my youngest son said,

‘Mum, these spuds are awesome, how did you do them?’

My reply?

‘That would be my secret.’

One has to keep a little bit of mystery, if I told him how to cook them then they wouldn’t be Mum’s special spuds anymore would they!

So our evening meal was a success – the slow cooked lamb steaks in my special gravy was also devoured with relish – but I can be quite big-headed here and say that I am actually, quite a good cook. At other times though, for us creative types, when our creations are put out to general approval you can quite often find our hearts in our mouths and our breathing short and rapid as we wait to hear the final verdict.

‘Is it good? Or is it bad?’ We think to ourselves. ‘Oh it’s bad isn’t it.They hate it. It has to be the most rubbish bit of utter tripe I have ever done. Why on earth did I decide to do that?’

And these thoughts continue to whirl around inside our heads until we are finally told what we need to hear. Approval. The all encompassing human need to be liked and loved by those around us. The feeling that we are needed and that without us, then we would be missed. I guess that would explain my secret recipe for the spuds…..

For the introverted creative this need can be excruciating. We know that we can do this stuff, but to get a knock back can be taken to heart so much more and can be instrumental in us holding back and not pushing open the doors that others appear to fling open with outright glee. This week however, I stuck a toe through a little gap and sent a tentative email to see if I could, possibly, if they didn’t mind too much, apply for a Masters in creative/professional writing at two universities. I quoted my qualifications and writing achievements to date and was delighted to receive back, within 24 hours, a request for my portfolio and my application from my first choice course. That initial exhilaration has now passed though, as the realisation has dawned that THEY WANT TO SEE MY WORK! Oh my goodness, they want to see my work! What on earth have I done that is anywhere near good enough for them to like anything that I write?

But then I take a step back, I remember passing two (yes two) degrees through the Open University whilst raising three sons single handed, caring for sick and disabled parents and working at the same time to keep a roof over our heads. I remember that I am one of only six theatre reviewers for the biggest theatre in Cornwall and within this role I have had a one-to-one critique session with The Guardian’s theatre critic Mark Fisher…and he liked my work….I remember that I have as much right to do what I wish with my life as does the loudest person who refuses to have their words silenced.

Therefore, with a deep breath, my head held high and the doubting Thomas monsters that live in my mind at least muffled for a while, I have been reviewing and rewriting some of my past work to put into a portfolio. I have also put together one piece for submission to a magazine and I will post it off tomorrow, who knows, I might even be brave enough to submit to a second….

Today I am wearing my professional, I can do this persona. Today I am a confident, fully put together, functioning individual. Who knows what I will be tomorrow, but I like living in today mode.

Today I am doing what makes me happy.

Oh, and the magic spud recipe?

Baby new potatoes, parboiled and then oven roasted in oil and liberally drenched in supermarket own brand roast potato seasoning and a few garlic granules. Quite simple, really tasty…and see how brave I can be to share it with you?

Make sure that your today is a happy day too.

Anita x

Please feel free to comment on anything that has touched you in this piece, and also to share it to others.

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