‘JUST BE YOURSELF’…yeah right…

I’m sure you’ve heard it many, many times – that dreaded phrase: ‘just be yourself’. And what’s the issue with it… I mean, it’s positive right? Asking people to be themselves is a good thing?

But to ‘just be yourself’ is actually such a difficult thing to do. As humans, we have masks for everything. They are our protection.

We present ourselves differently depending on what situation we are in, who we are talking to, where we are going etc.

And many of these masks are so deep-rooted within us, we don’t even realise they exist. So each time a person asks us to ‘just be ourselves’ we react accordingly, presenting a version of ourselves that we hope will be validated as ‘good’ or ‘positive’.

The first poem in my book ‘Making Waves’ is centered around the masks we all wear, and how they are not always a bad thing…believe it or not! Sometimes they can actually be helpful in times of change and starting out on your path.

YOUR MASK IS YOUR PROTECTION AND YOUR STRENGTH IN TIMES OF VULNERABILITY

I sit here in silence

With no thoughts in my head

Seeing a poem

Which only lays dead

Because of the fear,

The struggle, the pain,

To allow anyone

To even know my name.

And the persona I choose

Lies close to my heart

As a way to protect

The fire destined to start

The fire that burns

Every bridge in my soul

Sealing the approval

Of my ultimate goal.

Freedom to ride

On the waves painted black

With choices so endless

You never look back

I see the elements

As they live within me

And the ‘Mother’ as she returns

And continues to be

My greatest teacher,

In times such as these

When life becomes

A little more than a breeze.

But to all my Mothers,

As we continue to grow

I ask for your guidance

In this world down below

To ignite the flames,

The passion, the power,

To rise within me,

The Great Purple Flower.

I HAVE ONE CHOICE: TO LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF SOCIETY, OR MYSELF

For me, the poem holds many different topics, all somehow intertwined into one complete piece. Maybe that highlights how we, as people, are made up of so many different elements. We have different experiences, personality traits and opinions all wrapped up in this one larger thing: the body.

I think the fear that I touch on, is very relatable for many people. We have all felt fearful of letting people see our work, that question always percolating– ‘how will they judge this?’ ‘how will they judge me?’. For many of us, there is that initial hesitation. ‘Am I making the right choice?’ And that is just how the human brain is wired, to protect us from scary situations. But sometimes, having the mask of ‘confidence’ (for example) allows us to push through that fear and think ‘ok, well I am scared, but I will share my work because I know this is something I want to do’.

This poem is very special to me, because I wrote it surrounded by an abundance of creative people. People who are inspirations. It was after writing this poem that I knew I was going to have to share my work (and although it would be scary), I was meant to do it.

And I have to say at that time, my masks were very useful, I was able to present, speak and smile my way through the initial stages of putting the book together and sharing my poetry, but now as I am slowly progressing and am not as focused on anybody else’s judgments, I have been able to slowly start to peel back bits of my illusion.

So I think it’s interesting for us all to think about… what masks do you wear and are they useful or is it time to take a peek behind them? It’s not something we can do overnight and its definitely not something we can do all at once but maybe it is something we can do in our lifetime. I am sure some are meant to stay with us – the die-hard protectors of the mask world!

I think the most important thing to know though, is that if you’re meant to do something, take the opportunity when it comes around, use the resources you have and don’t let anyone else’s mask put your mask off!

REPEAT AFTER ME: IT’S NOT YOUR BUSINESS WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS!

Emma Sykes
Emma Sykeshttps://www.emmajsykes.co.uk/
Emma Sykes is a writer, poet, actor, baker and lover of all things creative. Making Waves is her first published spoken word poetry book. Performance has always been Emma’s biggest passion and she has a special love for physical theatre. Find more about Emma’s work at www.emmajsykes.co.uk and follow her Instagram @emjsykes. Making Waves is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
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Larry Tyler

Emma I enjoyed your poem. Perhaps others reactions are needed as response is an indicator. That being said we must walk away from response leaving the moment behind, looking for the next engagement. I never worried what others think. Takes to much times and often has no benefit.

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