Tag Archives: pandemic masks

Will you be maskless?

Can I see your smile today? After all, public health restrictions seem to be lifting everywhere across the U.S. and parts of the world where the virus is abating. If you are in one of those geographies, masking will soon no longer be required. Just yesterday, I was astonished when my walking partner greeted me at 5:30 am with a maskless hug. It was the two-week anniversary of my second vaccination. Who knew?

Amidst all this euphoria, are you ready to be maskless? I know, I know. Isn’t everyone ready to be without a mask? While I think the answer to that question is yes, it is not really the question I am asking. My work in transition directs me to see this moment differently.

Even though we’ve all learned to don visible masks, the great majority of us are experts at being otherwise masked. Let me explain.

My research with hundreds of people who made major life changes revealed that many of us to a greater-or-lesser extent are invisibly masked in the normal course. This status expresses itself as a muting or muffling of ‘who we are’ in an effort to fit into the expectations of those around us. These expectations can emerge from workplaces, families, friends, society-at-large, and many other corners.

Does being masked sound familiar to you?

I remember one woman from my research on adult transitions who never believed she was good enough after college to pursue her dream. Now, nearly fifteen years after going off-course, her mask was firmly set. She had responsibilities, a lot to lose. Indecision had set in. She was stuck in a place of on-going conflict. She knew when and how she adopted her mask. Removing it was another story entirely.

Some of us, like my friend, are aware of being masked. Others not so much. It might surprise you that a great majority of us enter adulthood by relying on external influences to set our expectations and definition for ‘who we are.’ Our families or our occupation or our faith play a starring role in this external mix. The challenge, of course, is that all these external influences risk over-writing our genuine voice.

Transition is a process through which we come into our voices. Transition is not an event, like a pandemic, or a job loss, or even a divorce. Transition is a choice we make to establish a deeper connection to who we are and what holds value and meaning to us. It does not happen in one swing of the bat. It is a process, one that transforms our gaze of this world and our role within it.

Who knew that removing our masks would symbolize an even bigger choice? Many stand on the brink of such a terrific transformation. Will we begin to see more of you at this time? Transition is a courageous and life changing choice that will pay benefits that are orders-of-magnitude more than you can imagine as long as you are willing to take the first step.

Are you willing to take off your mask?

Linda Rossetti email me


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Are you wondering what to do now? Like many, I am motivated to act because I believe in a society that not only embraces all of its people but also acts in concert with those ideals. That said, I am struggling with how to act. What should we do to drive sustainable change that is decades – perhaps centuries – overdue? I found an answer in my work on transition that offers a new way of thinking about acting. Ironically, it compels us to remove our masks at the very moment we are being asked to don them.  Are you ready to be unmasked?

Photo by Alin Luna on Unsplash

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