Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

I mentioned in the sort of foreword about LTDC that from the first version to this last one, masks have been one of the main theme. People trying to be something they’re not, pretending that they don’t care about the things that they do, and all that stuff.

We all act differently around certain people, because we want to impress them, or maybe because we simply don’t want to dissapoint them. And sometimes, indeed, we can’t figure out who we really are.

I once wrote that our freedom is limited only by what we believe to be the perception others have about us. If we’re afraid the world won’t like us for who we really are, then we try our best to “behave.”

It’s incredibly difficult to do this, day in and day out. In the end, you won’t have a moment of peace, as long as you’re afraid the mask will fall off and people we’ll see you for who you really are.

I frankly don’t know why people do this, I just know why I did it. Because I wanted to belong, to find my place. I wanted to be accepted by the vast majority of people I met, so I did my best to act as shallow as possible. I’m somewhat funny, possibly even charismatic, so it wasn’t that difficult for me to act as if I didn’t care.

But you know what they say about funny people actually being the saddest of all creatures, right? But that doesn’t matter, as long as on the outside everything seems to be all right.

Back in highschool, few people knew I wrote. Now, that’s what really defines me, it’s the most important thing about me. Maybe it’s the only thing that really defines who I am.

Andre Gide once wrote, “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.”

I keep reminding me that. In life, in writing, in basically everything I do. And this simple statement is probably the most accurate definition of Chris Packlem’s struggle. Or maybe any man’s, for that matter.

Isn’t it true that we spend a hell lot of time trying to figure out what’s our purpose on this planet? What is it that we love doing? What is it that we want most? What is it that we’re truly great at? And what do we want after that? I’d say we spend the rest of our time on this Earth trying to find someone willing (or is it capable?) of loving us for who we really are.

That’s what my novel is really about. Chris Packlem pretends to be rich and careless. He collects stuff, he gets drunk as often as he can. But every handshake, every person he meets, does nothing to make him feel less lonely. Every time he stares at the New York skyline from “the top of the world” he thinks that the world just has to be big enough for him to find the love he thinks he deserves.

He hopes there’s one person, just one of out 7 or so billion, who’s capable of seeing through his mask, of seeing through his chest.

Will Bower does the same thing. He’s like the Dennis Rodman of the art world. Maybe that’s true for all those who behave outrageously. At heart, they’re just shy and introverted, and they’re so afraid the world is never going to accept them that they change into something entirely different.

Sometimes it feels as if we’re never who we think we are. That, somehow, something always gets lost in the “translation.”


I’d like to thank Aline Lotter, Aleksandar Perisic, carrieinholland, Sachintha Peiris, Ally, and all the other folks who contributed in the past 24 hours.

With just 4 days to go, we’re only $332 from reaching our goal. Still plenty of cool perks left. You can contribute here.

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26 comments on “Masks

  1. Liza V. says:

    you're brilliant.

  2. Liza V. says:

    Reblogged this on Liza writes to fill, feel and fall for the silence. and commented:
    Cristian Mihai is brilliant.

  3. forda21 says:

    I agree wearing a masking and becoming a different person for each social group is exhausting. I starting wearing a mask when I left home for the first time and found myself alone looking for a place to belong. However I found it more freeing once I found friends who were happy with me being me. Sometimes I still don't know what I want to do or who I want to see myself become in the future but it's all a part of growing…

  4. ericaatje says:

    Love the quote: “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.” It's oh so true…

  5. hfaye81 says:

    What a lovely set of words. I love how you not only give us a peek behind your mask, but make us feel as if you've peeled away ours.

  6. Interesting thoughts, you might really like the movies "Stranger than Fiction" and "Everything Must Go," starring Will Ferrell. He's a good actor when he's not playing brain-dead slapstick comedies (not that I dislike those movies, just saying he actually has talent). The main characters from both of the movies remind me of a lot of the ideas you bandy about here.

    I just put up a short story and all the feedback on it had me questioning my writing style–wondering if I should be more direct than I like to be to please a wider audience. Masks are itchy, I think I'll just be myself when I write!

  7. socialbridge says:

    Cristian, thanks for a powerful post. It brings to mind Judy Collins and 'Send in the Clowns' which I first heard of here in Ireland when a friend phoned me from New York to tell me about a great new song that was out and that I just HAD to hear. We phoned each other for months after that as the song gained momentum. Masks and clowns are one and the same thing to me ever since.

  8. ramanda429 says:

    You know it is true. I think everyone wears masks. I know I did, and still do for certain people. People I still feel I cannot be myself to. I wonder how long it will be until I don't care how they feel about the real me.

  9. Thank you for picking out the quote "It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not." It is just what I needed this week.

  10. A2LSM says:

    Great post. One of my favorite quotes about the masks we wear is this one: “God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another.” ~ William Shakespeare

  11. JAHirsch says:

    Is that Hawthorne quote from "The Scarlet Letter"? Certainly an appropriate book to reference in a discussion about presenting a face to the world that has nothing to do with what's actually underneath.

  12. I've never had to wear a mask.because of that, sometimes I stand alone. What you write has so much truth.i watch so many people I know become different people depending on who's around. It must be exhausting always trying to be who you think others want you to be. Your book sounds fantastic. Love the idea behind it :)

  13. cdmyers00 says:

    Until we know who we are, why we are here, and what we are meant to be, we will struggle with accepting ourselves and others.

  14. Sachi says:

    "We all act differently around certain people, because we want to impress them, or maybe because we simply don’t want to dissapoint them. And sometimes, indeed, we can’t figure out who we really are." Something that has bugging me for a long time.. Glad you wrote this post. Love it !

  15. Really enjoyed reading this one, you put on writing my thoughts.

  16. Aquatic Poetry says:

    Really enjoyed this one- seems you put on writing my thoughts with this.

  17. One's face is actually a cover up for the mask, not the other way around. Remember the Marx Brothers – If someone talks like an idiot, and looks like an idiot, don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.

    Honor the mask.

  18. Joel says:

    I guess there's a big blurry line out there between displaying everything we feel and are and what we actually show the world. Just getting around emotionally means we can't let "everything" go, and our core personality provides the framework we walk around with. Finding your creative outlet, as writers do, allows us a constructive, and often beautiful way to express ourselves. Writing can be a gift to ourselves, and hopefully to others.

  19. mindmarrow says:

    You are what you read/watch/see/eat/listen to, and these days that can make for a confusing facade indeed.Good luck wading through the distractions and settling in on the real you/me/us/them;-)

  20. Enjoyed this very much. Reminds me of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem, one of my favorites," We Wear Mask." Also Hawthorne's quote is apropos, as he uses this idea of masking often in his literature, "The Scarlett Letter" and "The Minister's Veil," to name a few. Shows how people have worn two faces for centuries.

  21. Joanna says:

    You are right and masks are part of survival. If you at least admit to yourself that you wear masks, you have a chance to discover yourself.

  22. nishi01 says:

    So loved this post of yours!

  23. fairrose says:

    Pretty awesome blog u have here. I'm reblogging this. And thanks for the like on my blog.

  24. fairrose says:

    Reblogged this on Welcome to fairrose's Blog and commented:
    Pretty awesome blog. I'll like my dear followers to read this.

  25. Joyce says:

    People with Borderline Personality Disorder wear masks so much they don’t know who they truly are.

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