That was about the only thing I dreaded when the Christmas season came around… The sound of whistles accompanied with the rhythmic chant “Masquerader! Masquerader!” As a child, I really wondered what this scary looking mask had to do with Christmas. The only thing it seemed to succeed in doing was making a little girl run and hide behind her parents or any corner close by. As I grew up, “Masquerader” became less and less intimidating to me. The knowledge that often comes with growing up made me realise that the masqueraders were actually human beings hiding behind some colorful costume to entertain and also make a little cash. My apprehension towards them eventually vanished. They actually became more of a hilarious sight to me. Seeing a few of them recently in traffic brought some memories to mind as well as one or two lessons. Memories. They were important then and are important now. No matter how life may have turned out, almost everyone’s childhood is characterised by one good memory or another. Growing up may have made those pictures fade, but it’s great to pick those pictures up once in a while. Memories bring another word to mind: FAMILIARITY. Just like I became familiar with the once scary masqueraders.
Over time, I’ve wondered whether familiarity is really a good thing or a bad thing. No doubt, when I’m familiar with someone, I know what they like and don’t like, so I know the right way to relate with them….but on the flipside, familiarity has a way of making us take people for granted unconsciously, either because we have known the person for a long time or because we expect the person to know that we love them and we also expect them to always be around. Familiarity needs a great balance between knowing and making the effort to keep things ‘fresh and alive’. Someone said, “Everything is valuable only at two times: Before getting it and after losing it…” May this saying not be true in our lives. May things be most valuable to us when we have them NOW. Masqueraders also have a funny way of bringing two other things to mind: “FACING MY FEARS “and.” HIDING BEHIND A FACADE. ”
AS time goes on, the things we were once so afraid of are not so scary once we get the courage to face them. At times, the only way we can overcome that fear is by facing it head on and nipping the myth around it in the bud. How will you know how much potential you have until you overcome the status quo in that area of your life? The first few tries may be disappointing, but it gets better with time. Until we stand up and face our fears, the whole world will pass us by as we cower in fear towards that seemingly formidable thing. In facing our fears, we do not need to lose our identity. Facing our fears by no means implies that we need to impress people, like choosing a “difficult” course so that people will “respect” you. Like the Masquerader, we may sometimes unconsciously hide behind some identity just to ‘stand out’ or fit in. As I was growing, I realised that many people keep up appearances because of the environment they find themselves in. For example, peer pressure could lead to something like: “Everyone is ‘rich’… I must show that me too “I have some”. But why do we need to prove ourselves? If we are truly content, we won’t feel the need to compete with others, and even if we do feel that urge, we can overcome it.
In hiding behind the facade, we end up losing who we truly are, and when we finally take the masks off, we do not recognise who we are anymore. It is never too late though. No matter how thick the makeup may be, it can always be wiped off, leaving the same familiar face with which we can start afresh… I just want to brush over the three lessons my MASQUERADERS have taught me: -Cherish memories and make familiarity an enjoyable thing. -Face your fears… That scary thing isn’t as formidable as it initially seems. -Be yourself. No matter how much you may try to follow the status quo, your self will catch up with you some time. Christmas is here once again. No doubt, we will see more masqueraders, (even though it seems their numbers have reduced drastically). Let us embrace who we are as Ghanaians and be welcoming to others. Above all, let us not forget the true Reason for the season, JESUS CHRIST!