In a world where everyone wears masks, we need to learn to focus on being real.

Another post that has nothing to do with photography.

I post this as a mom, as a high school mentor, as a concerned citizen.

America…  2018…  I think that, maybe, we are broken.  

I look around and everyone is shouting, yet no one feels heard.

I look around and everyone is baring themselves, yet no one feels seen.

I look around and everyone is connecting, yet no one feels attached.

Behind our masks, we are a broken people.

School shootings are merely a symptom of this cancer, as are the upswings in depression and suicides.  

I wish I had the answer.  I wish it were as simple as Congress passing a law or making changes in our school security, but I really think the problem goes down to our core.  We could, and probably should make laws and changes to make these catastrophes harder to execute, but they would only be hurdles, not solutions.

Maybe it is our obsession with celebrity.  More than ever the common theme running through our kids’ and teens’ future desired professions is celebrity.  One-third of tweens and teens want some sort of occupation that will bring with it fame and celebrity.  People are more likely to know the details of a celebrity’s life than know our country’s history.  Some people call it the “Look at Me” culture.  When you base your worth on social media attention or the love of the fickle world, you will get your heart broken.  You are worth so much more that the attention you may or may not get.  

Maybe, we are seeing the result of a culture that has been over-marketed to.  From birth, we are confronted with images and ads showing us that our lives would be so much better if only we had THIS car or THAT device.  More than ever, we are a culture based on envy.  We are conditioned to think “if only…”.  We are trained to never be content and to always want the next best thing.  You are worth so much more than what you may or may not have.

Social media seems to just be this amazing avenue where we can display our enviable life and try and drum up attention.  So we display the good and enviable stuff while we hide the bad and real stuff.  We put on masks.  We play roles and then wonder why we lack genuine connection.  Our masks are designed to show the desirable sides of ourselves.  We like to look like we have it all together.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a person or two that we can be real with, people with whom we can take off our masks, but what happens to all of those us who don’t find those special people?  What happens when we never feel safe to take off our mask?

I was having a discussion with my niece yesterday about girls in high school who think they are better than everyone else.  I desperately wanted to tell her that it gets better by the time you are forty, but I am not sure it does.  I scroll through Instagram and still see forty-year-olds trying to outdo and impress one another.  We are still struggling to be real with one another.  We have to DROP THE MASKS!

I truly believe that EVERY person has value just in who they are.  EVERY person has something to offer this world.  I believe that our beauty isn’t found in what we look like, what we wear, or even what we accomplish.  I believe that our beauty is simply in who we are.  

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