I've been going through various roles and masks I wear and have worn throughout my life - not the ones I "wear" as I act in a theatre, but the ones I wear everywhere off-stage. They differ from situation to situation, yet the same ones usually occur with the same people or in similar situations. Within some social circles that have been around for a long time I have also witnessed my roles gradually morphing into something new, usually with the passing of time and my changing self.
I have noticed that I only wear masks because of fear. They are very convenient to hide behind in case I make a mistake: the role always finds a way to take the punches, and they aren't as painful as I detach myself from them. As it wasn't me who blundered but the character (and from the characters point of view it never made any mistakes, just bounced back), it has been very difficult to learn from my mistakes. They weren't my mistakes, so why should I bother? Thus nothing has been resolved, and I've been left with painful experiences I have not dealt with and shoved into a closet to eventually explode.
One of my favourite masks, one I still wear these days, is the mask I like to call The Clown. It usually appears in social gatherings consisting of people that are somewhat uptight, reserved, quiet or unhumorous, just to bring some much needed comical relief, relaxedness and laughter, or to shake and break the norm of that situation and bring people out of their reality tunnels. The clown is sometimes very much needed and that's why I've kept on using it, but I have noticed it's most unconstructive regarding my personal process. You see, the clown has been an enjoyable retreat for me, a state of being where I don't have to be afraid of screwing up or what other people think of me. I have never had to actually face those fears, since there's always been a role that could bypass that nasty process. I am still afraid of acting out, of being social, of not being socially capable.
Another role that has still been in use is The Mystic. It's the complete opposite of the ape-like clown: this mask shrouds me in mysterious silence where the mere anticipation of my scarce words makes them sound more meaningful that they might actually be. The mystic's behavior is quite close to what I usually prefer when in a maskless* state - if I have nothing to say, I stay quiet. What brings out the mystic is often the expectations of others: I have been in situations where my pagan background has been commonly known, and my silence has been seen as a sagelike attribute fitting my profile as the Queen of Witches or whatever, whereas in reality my silence is just silence: me being still, thoughtless and present. But even though I recognize all this, I still abuse the role of the mystic every now and then either to dominate a situation or a person or to cover up my fear of the situation I'm in.
*I have set myself a goal to reach a state of rolelessness in each and every moment. Roles serve no truly constructive purpose (outside of stage), and if I wish to create myself anew, I must first get rid of the old baggage and become a clean slate. It's most interesting to step into situations and be aware of not having a role - familiar situations change completely and new ones open up doors I have never noticed before. Now it's just a matter of merging it into my being, but I guess it will take some time. And you know what helps? I just realized that in my day job I wear no mask. It must be of some real good assistance that the environment I spend a big chunk of my time in is a space where I don't have to struggle with this.