I’ve been thinking about masking and self-editing quite a bit recently. And I’ve come to realise that I’m not entirely sure where the line is between them.
Most people self-edit to a certain extent. Most people would probably answer the question “So what are you up to at the weekend?” differently depending on who is asking the question (and what they actually have planned!). For instance:
A: Not much, probably just a quiet one (to your boss)
B: Going out with a few friends (to an acquaintance)
C: Going to that new club and plan to get completely trollied. Fancy coming along? (to a close friend)
And that’s a good thing, and completely appropriate. (And absolutely not what I have planned – my actual plans for the weekend involve a therapy session and a visit from my parents!)
Not having an instinctive understanding of social situations, it’s often difficult for me to know exactly how much it’s appropriate to share. I still veer from not sharing anything to oversharing, but in most situations I remain within the ‘basically appropriate’ band.
It’s been something I’ve had to actively learn to do, but learning to self-edit is probably the one thing that has helped me most in terms of making social connections.
So if self-editing is normally a good thing, what about masking? Because while I may be happy to self-edit, I’m no longer comfortable masking in most situations.
I think the difference for me is that, with self-editing, I’m still being myself. I may not be sharing everything that’s going on in my head, and I may be a different version of myself in different settings, but I’m not saying anything false or pretending to be someone that I’m not. With masking, it’s more about adopting a slightly different persona; a different viewpoint to my real one. It almost feels like lying – and I’ve never learnt to be very good at that.
Of course, there’s a huge grey area where self-editing stops and masking starts. And I’m not a big fan of grey areas; I prefer things to be black and white, particularly when it comes to how I think and act.
I’m in one of these grey areas at the moment. I’m writing this from a coffee shop ahead of my therapy session. I’m having a difficult time at the moment, but am worried that if I am completely honest about how I’m feeling then that will potentially stop me doing some enjoyable things I have planned for next week. So I intend to go in, say I’m fine and get out of there as soon as possible.
Is that masking or self-editing? I’m not sure…