It has nothing to do with the pandemic.
Like everyone else on Earth, I was bummed when I heard we needed to start wearing masks out in public.
It seemed like a big pain in the butt. It’s hard to breathe in masks. If I’m wearing my glasses, every single breath in a mask fogs them up. I have to remember to put the mask on every time I leave the house. I now have masks scattered everywhere: at home, in the car, in my purse, in the office.
It’s a hassle for sure, but the more I have worn a mask, the more I realize that there are some benefits that I never anticipated.
For one thing, I never have to worry if I’ve got spinach or a poppy seed stuck in my teeth. The mask hides any embarrassing remnants of whatever I ate for lunch.
It’s also a bonus not to have to worry about lipstick. Lipstick just gets smeared on the inside of your mask and besides, no one can see your lips anyway.
There’s also such an opportunity for self-expression with masks. I’ve got pretty masks for when I want to look nice, Chicago Bears masks to show my team spirit, Wonder Woman masks for my whimsical side, and plain masks for any other time. You can now get a mask representing almost any interest or cause, and it’s fun to see what people are wearing on a particular day.
But without a doubt, the absolute best part of wearing a mask is — no more poker face!
Masks almost completely well, mask your emotions. Wearing a mask gives a person the complete freedom to throw off the shackles of insincere politeness. If I see someone doing something stupid or annoying, I used to have to struggle to do what a former boss described as “arranging my face into a pleasant expression”.
Now I can frown and scowl and look as judgemental as I want, because they only see my eyes anyway. As long as I don’t squint angrily or roll my eyes, I’m golden.
No longer do I have to muster up a polite smile as I pass someone I don’t like. I can nod at them while I mouth an insult and they will have no idea what just happened.
I don’t have to hide my impatience waiting in line. I don’t have to pretend like I’m totally fine being felt up by TSA when I go through airport security. I can scowl and make faces and mouth insults as much as I want.
All I have to do is keep my voice silent and my eyes calm.
It’s incredibly freeing. I hadn’t realized how exhausting it was to school my expression and hide my emotions.
I might wear a mask all the time now — on video meetings, at family dinners, during exercise class. In fact, there’s a good chance I’ll hide the bottom half of my face for the rest of my life.
And if I’m keeping myself and others safe from a pandemic at the same time, that’s just a side benefit.