Vitality This Halloween, Take Off Your Mask and Embrace Vulnerability How do you hide yourself? Ditch the mask and let your true self shine. By Amanda Kohr It’s Halloween, and while we love a good session of dress-up, we’re all about ditching the masks. Ever feel terrified to ask for support? Have you been in a situation where you had an opinion, but didn’t voice it? Have you kept your burning desires a secret? Yeah, us too. But this holiday, we’re dedicated to celebrating vulnerability and letting our voices be heard. There are many ways to, figuratively, remove the mask. Maybe it means speaking out against an injustice, or allowing yourself to be the minority when you know something is wrong. The mindset can also be applied to our relationships: Too often, we neglect to admit our feelings in fear of rejection. Below are the many reasons why you might be disguising yourself, and how you can make steps forward to letting yourself be honest. Asking for What You Want When we don’t ask for what we want, we start to feel under-appreciated or resentful. This can apply in a multitude of different situations. Maybe you’ve been looked over for a raise, or your boss is recognizing others for your contributions. In some instances this happens on the home front, and you feel like you’re putting in more work or effort than your significant other. The fear of asking for what you want even follows us into our sex lives; we let embarrassment get in the way of honest communication, and then we never get to experience the pleasure we deserve. All of these situations have something in common: We’re missing out on some really good stuff. Asking for what you want doesn’t need to be a big ordeal. Remember that no one (except maybe your psychic) is a mind reader, and that asking for what you want means being direct. Be bold, kind, and clear about what you want and when you want it. You aren’t being selfish—having the guts to ask for what you want makes things easier for everyone in the long run. And on top of that, you’re setting a precedent for how you deserve to be treated. Good things come to this who speak out. Gathering Support We all go through rough times, but we aren’t always real about it. Too often we favor silence over honesty, burying our feelings whenever they try to come out. Maybe you’re struggling with depression, grappling with unemployment, working your way out of a bad relationship, or having trouble with conception. Maybe you’re simply overwhelmed. And while it may seem intimidating to share your struggles, doing so can have numerous benefits. If you reach out doing tumultuous times, you might be surprised to see how many others are navigating similar issues. When we ask for support, we alert the world that our problems are real and deserve attention, therefore paving the way for others who might eventually struggle with the same things. Think of things like postpartum depression, or divorce. Asking for help gives others the comfort and courage of knowing they aren’t alone. Sharing Your Feelings This is a big one. Whether a friend has hurt you, or you’ve got a big crush on that guy in your karaoke group, hiding our feelings takes a lot of work. And when we hide these feelings, we may end up feeling resentful, regretful, and dissatisfied. Life is too short to let fear dictate your emotional decisions. Rather than keeping those thoughts bottled up, consider voicing them. Doing so can help strengthen your existing relationships, and possibly foster new ones. If addressing someone who was hurt you, start your sentences with “I feel…”, as this helps make it like less of an accusation. Remember you don’t need to apologize for your emotions, and that the other person has their own set of feelings. Empathy and honesty are key. And while it may seem hard at first, practicing when sharing your emotions will strengthen that muscle, and make it easier to continue the practice throughout the rest of your life. Pretending to be something you’re not is exhausting. And while it’s fun for a night or two (we totally aren’t bashing on your all-spandex skeleton costume), living with a mask only prevents you from enjoying life in its entirety. Trash the mask, and embrace your vulnerability. — Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com.