Plenty to think about in this book:
Claire’s book is a mix of personal vulnerability, tied to 10 years of observation, considering how wearing a ‘mask’ for social acceptability all the time is awkward, exhausting and unfulfilling, spending your whole lives feeling a need to perform (as Jeff Lucas puts it in the in the introduction).
I scribbled a lot of notes whilst reading this book, as I’m currently writing up an academic piece about self-regulation and the need to perform ‘online’, and this book demonstrates that many ways that we’ve always done that offline, including in what should be safe spaces – churches. All of us are wired for relationships, and have a fear of rejection – our previous life experiences have often fed an inner critical voice, which becomes a mask – to be more like other people’s expectations.
Claire highlights that there are positives, including a sense of play and adventure, but mostly masks give pressure, feed imposter syndrome, and Facebook, etc. which give a ‘snapshot of our lives’ can make us feel like we’re not measuring up… and a lot of people-pleasing. There is a call that the world needs more ‘real people’, with space for close friendships, rather than a need ‘splurge to strangers’. A strong challenging message towards the end as to why our fear of others is greater than our fear of the God who accepts us as we are… and is capable of using ‘nobodies’ in a transformative way.
Tied to Biblical insights, it offers space for reflection and for action through poems, thoughts and suggested exercises, and an openly expressed hope that as we remove our masks and protective shells, it gives others permission to open up around us too.