If only we could take off the masks we wear.

Wouldn’t things be much simpler? I think so, I think that masks are the reason why we fail to connect with others. I know that I am most uncomfortable when I am putting forward a face or persona of a person who I am certainly not. When does this usually happen? In big groups of people I don’t know. I found that out about myself months ago…that I get nervous and try to play down what I am doing with my life for some reason. It reminds me of the idea that the world does not benefit from your playing small. It benefits the greatest from you shining your light and believing that you can achieve anything.

The truth is, there are still many things that scare the crap out of me.

Honest. In fact, I could safely say that since I have started this project, I am more scared than I have ever been. But here’s the thing, I have also developed much more courage, and over the past few months, an ability to go directly into something…despite being full of fear…and just seeing what I am capable of. Without one you cannot have the other.

I had an interesting experience this weekend in Tahoe that I want to talk about. In the morning when my best friend and my sister and her friend went out to go for a bike ride, I decided that I wanted to go for a bit of a hike. I drove to a medium grade trail and then in a moment of inspiration decided to drive another five minutes to the hardest hike in the area. Donner Peak, a mountain that I have climbed a handful of times off-trail is challenging, slightly dangerous, full of big rocks that you have to put your hands and feel to work for, and overall one hell of a climb was what I chose to do. The weekend before I had climbed it with my dad and my sister, and completed it in roughly 2.5 hours.

This time, I wanted to see how fast I could go.

So I set my watch, and booked up the mountain. A mile scratching, clawing, wheezing, talking to myself, listening to music, taking breaks for 10 seconds to catch my breath and continuing to move on. I went and went and went and hardly stopped until I hit the top. But on the way up I had this thought. “What’s the point of working so hard in the gym and doing all of the cardio if you don’t go out into the wild and challenge yourself to your max?” That motivated me even further. Never once, even though I put myself in some precarious situations, did I feel unsafe or that I was in trouble.

I hit the top in 36 minutes.

I had this moment up on the top of the mountain that is hard to explain. But in looking up to the sky, I gave the nod as if to say “I did this for you. Thank you for keeping me healthy this past 11 weeks, and I am going to continue to do things like this, to push myself, to put myself outside of my comfort zone and to challenge every piece of my body and mind to be something greater.”

See I believe that if you don’t attempt things that you haven’t mastered before then you are literally solidifying yourself into mediocrity

I think one of the greatest challenges of life is not facing what is thrown at you, but in facing yourself every day, and challenging yourself to try things that you have never done before. To me, that’s hard. Because it is so easy to stay where you are comfortable. It’s so easy to take the path, the one that I almost chose that day, that has been walked upon by everyone else. Sometimes, you need to climb that mountain. Sometimes, you need to go as hard as you can and see what happens.

That mountain will stay in my mind for a long time. That mountain for me signifies a very pure moment when I took off one of the masks I wear and put myself to the test.

I think one of the reasons why I enjoy writing so much is that I can take the things I learn in daily life and apply them to a different state of being or idea.  What I mean by this is that maybe climbing a mountain in itself has nothing to do with life in its simplest form, but when you take what you learned from that experience, it is something that builds you up instead of brings you down. The masks we wear are only taken off when we go outside of our common self and do something beyond which we think we are capable.

Then, we are heroes in the making.

Because in every scene of life, we can make the decision to tear off the masks we wear and face fear dead in the face. We can stare it down and destroy it through action. Without that though, we are sheep to fear. I would rather be a lion. Wouldn’t you?

Take off your mask.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project