The masked ball
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It is said that the one who loves the deep also loves the mask. I never truly understood the meaning of that sentence. I guess it means that someone who has a troubled and complex inner life needs to wear a disguise when it comes the time to fit in. When he or she needs to connect with others in society in order to avoid loneliness. Deep down we are all complex beings and we use the veil to protect ourselves.
But ¿What is mask? It is a shell that we use to avoid feeling vulnerable in front of others. It is easy to undress and be naked but, to show yourself as you really are, to show your naked soul to others…that is one of the most difficult things a human being can do ¿Why is so difficult? Because it is not easy to be vulnerable. To feel vulnerable. The famous “be your self” is the biggest challenge. The real deal. Specially if you don’t who you are.
When we want to approach an attractive woman we prefer to wear a mask than to reveal our true essence. The fear of rejection paralyze us. The pain we could feel if we are not accepted would make us collapse. It is human to feel the need to belong somewhere. To be part of something and to be accepted by our peers. We are social beings after all and the sense of belonging is almost instinctive. The experts on marketing, publicity, advertising and social psychology know this very well. In fact, they have been using it for centuries and the use it today to manipulate us. Over and over again. The are so many examples.
Today I want to expose my naked soul and share my experience with you. I want to tell you about all the masks I have used. And how and why I have decided to stop wearing them. To write about this is my way to release, to set me free.
During my adolescence I was quite character. I wore the clown mask. I made everybody laugh with my histrionic behavior. I used to hear all the time: “you are such a character”. God, I really hated when I heard those words. I wasn’t a person, I was just and abstract entity. But, paradoxically, I felt more comfortable using my masks than being myself. Because, to tell the truth, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know myself. I had never asked myself the magic questions: “Who I am? What do I want? What I am passionate about? What I can do to get what I want? Which is the reason why I get up every morning? What is my purpose in life?”
It is easier to wander through life without direction or goals than answer this questions. It is easier to let the river take you away than to swim toward the place you really want to go, even though if it means to swim against the flow.
In spite of my professional achievements, I was feeling really lonely. I had never had a girlfriend. I barely used to go out and practically I didn’t know any girl. Of course I had female friends in college. Actually, for me that was a real achievement if you compare it with my situation back in high school. I knew deep down they used me to overcompensate their fragile self-esteems. To them I wasn’t attractive. They just love me as a friend. But in those days, it was a fair exchange for me: it was the first time I interacted with the opposite sex and that was something to be proud of. I guess.
Time went by and nothing happened. I found myself alone. My approaches to the girls I was attracted to were unsuccessful. I wasn’t able to generate attraction. I was suffering in silence. Loneliness and sadness were fertile ground to plant the seed of resentfulness and depression. In that time I believed that the success in my professional career would compensate the lack of a social life and meaningful relationships. I was wrong.
One day I woke up and I was twenty eight year old. The last ten years seemed a dream to me. A dream I could barely remember. I felt that I was still eighteenth year old and that I was waking up form a coma. A coma that had last ten years. Depression and anger had grown. Is not easy to be a man in Argentina. The culture of smooth talking and frivolous seduction had transformed our society into a masked ball. I don’t know when the music had started. May be it had begun with the beat of the Italian Tarantella in the beginning of the twentieth century. When the Italian immigrants arrived to shores of the “Rio de la Plata”. A few women and lot of daring, bold, naughty, mischievous smooth talkers can help to explain the situation that we live today.
Now we have a society full of women on the defensive. With social shields that prevent men from talking to them a know them. With a mistrustful attitude towards the sweet words pronounce by males. They wear the mask of irreverence and cynicism. The put men to the test with sarcasm, aggressions and insults to see if they are worthwhile. They repeat over an over again that hate this smooth talkers who speak to them this sweet but deceitful sentences and who are the owners of a roguish humor. But the truth is that they love that.
As an adolescence, when I start going out and approaching to girls, I only received the cold indifference and the sharp sarcasm. I was defenseless. I didn’t know the rules of the game. The resentfulness was growing little by little.
As soon as I woke up from the coma I decided to do something about it. Until then I had only had sex with five girls and I had never been in a relationship. No girlfriend, no couple, not even a fuck buddy. Nothing. None of those girls were attractive. At least not to me. I had to satisfy my sexual urges somehow and they were available. I didn’t want to be with them. I was too proud to be with someone I didn’t like just to avoid loneliness. I preferred to be alone no matter how painful the situation was.
It was then, at 28, when I decided to start using a new mask and join the ball. Start dancing like the others. I wore the mask of arrogance, confidence, irreverence and sarcasm. The mask of a smooth talker. Everything was new to me. It was a new world. I didn’t know the game nor its cruel and specific rules. In the beginning I did not know the difference between a twenty year old girl and thirty year old woman. Everything was the same to me. But little by little I started opening my eyes. I begun to understand the rules of the game.
Using the mask of the smooth talker implied many things: to lie in some aspects, to be arrogant and to use humor in provocative ways. That was the way of dealing with the masks of sarcasm, cynicism and indifference that women wore. It wasn’t their fault to act like that. They use the veil to protect themselves. To avoid being vulnerable. Since they were little they had learned to be suspicious of the sweet words the boys used to tell them. It is almost a tradition in high school for the senior students to use the most sugary lies to sleep with the youngest ones. They are so naive that they fall under the most simple spells. Then, they learn to mistrust. They learn that words are not as sincere as they seem and that they are just mere means to an end. The ball has begun. After several years they develop a shield to protect themselves. To avoid feeling vulnerable and once again being hurt.
Now men must develop sophisticate techniques to penetrate this shield. The worst part is that once the shield has been broken the women feel disappointed once again, and the shield becomes stronger and thicker. Is like the relationship between bacterias and antibiotics: in the long run we have a spiral of cynicism and mistrusts that gets bigger and bigger each day. A sinister and sad ball where we dance with the music of resentfulness.
The saddest part is that, in the beginning, most of men don’t use this mask. In fact, they are genuine in their intentions. But thanks to the few that (back in high school) have taken advantage of the situation starting the vicious circle and playing the music, now the honest men have been left out of the dance.
Now most men have limited options: to use the mask or to suffer loneliness (alone or in a relationship with a woman that they don’t love). That leads to a low self-esteem. Sadness appears and the possibility to be with someone they really like begin to disappear. After some time the most harmful limiting beliefs start developing in their minds. Happiness generates attraction while depression generates rejection. Another vicious circle has begun.
His female friends tell him: “be yourself”. They truly believe that it is the answer to seduce a woman. Of course they are referring to other women, not to them. They tell him he is just a friend for them. “You are good guy but…”. Or “I have friend to fix you up with..” Normally not an attractive one and with a low self esteem. Now the dilemma rise from this situation: alone or with an ugly girl. She also has the same dilemma. In most cases both give in and then we have so many couples that travel together the road of life in silent despair. And then they have kids. And then they divorce. Fifteen years have passed. They find themselves where they had started. They feel they are waking up from a long comma.
That was not my case fortunately. I was to proud to give in to pressure. I chose to be alone. I continued my quest to seduce the ones I liked. But I was rejected over and over again.
Nowadays women have adopted a new attitude concerning relationships. Specially professional women over twenty five. They seem to act as the worst kind of men. They have all this disposable lovers that they can use to satisfy their sexual desires without getting involved. They are the result of the nineties feminism that have ruined a generation women. In the name of equality they have been taught to act like men. However, not any men, but rather as the one that they hated the most. That men that used sweet words to seduce them and take them to bed. That men they used to talk about every time they repeated the sentence: “They are all the same”. The television series “Sex and the City” (cultural representation of those rotten values) ruined the life of thousands of women. And also the life of the men who genuinely wanted to be with them.
Today they are almost forty and they still go to bars looking for affection, although they don’t admit it. They hide behind the mask of arrogance. They say they are independent women having fun. Enjoying life. They have a pretentious attitude. They are defensive and they have good motives to act like this. They go to the wrong places where they will never find what they are looking for. On the contrary, there they will find the men they are constantly complaining about. The one that hate women because he has been rejected all his life. He didn’t know how to play the game. How to dance in the masked ball. His disguise was not effective enough. Now he suffers alone and wanders through the night showing a false sens of confidence.
He despises women. He blame them for his misery and he thinks they are selfish beings. Deep down he search for affection. But it is late. Too late. He is to proud for admitting what he really wants. Women hate him, but they will sleep with him anyway in order to fulfill the self fulfilling prophecy that “they are all the same”. They brag of their disposable lovers but deep down they suffer in loneliness. They pretend to be this confident women even though they are so frightened. The seem happy, but they feel miserable. The men do the same.
That is why I don’t go to bars anymore. Those men and women disgust me and, at the same time, I feel sorry for them. They don’t want to be helped. Their pride doesn’t let them to be helped. Sometimes they victimize. In order to ask for help they need to hit rock bottom, like an alcoholic. Only in this circumstance we can realize how broken we are. But when their misery is not deep enough, we never have chance to admit we need help to go out from the well. And the depression becomes a slow motion accident. You never get to crash and the degradation is slow and silent.
“One thing let to the other. A man has a weakness, a flaw. He is imperfect. That defect make him feel guilty. Guilt leaves to shame. And the shame is compensate with pride, arrogance and vanity. And when the pride fails, despair takes over and take him to his destruction. His fate is sealed…something must stop the flow.”
The music must stop. We must find the courage to take off our masks and look each other in the eyes. To strip our souls. I am tired to use my mask. I don’t need it anymore. I prefer to be rejected for who I am rather than for who I am not. I am not a great seducer but I have transformed myself. From being a misfit I became an attractive person. I don’t need the veil anymore. I hang out with those who accept me as I am, with those who are willing to dance without masks.
I had to leave my country. I had to start a new life in a place where people don’t use the masks so often. I don’t need to wear it. I remove the veil and show myself exactly how I am. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king, but I am not interested in royalty. I want to be with a woman with whom I can share my life, my secrets, my passions. Someone who can look after me and, at the same time, someone I can look after. That believes in me and that can guide me.
That is who I always was behind the mask. I thank the veil. After all it helped me a lot during a difficult time of my life. The mask is part of my history now. But now I have to continue alone with my face uncovered. I feel free for the first time in ten years. I feel the soft wind in my face. I breath the fresh air. It fills me with joy and energy.
Licenciado en economía de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Realizo estudios en la Universidad Sorbonne Paris 1 pero ahora se dedica a temas más interesantes porque mucha economía te quema la cabeza ...