Will you wear a mask forever?


What does “Be Me. Be Natural” mean? No idea.

When I made that phrase my tagline, I had not thought deeply of the meaning behind. It just sounded right. It sounded mysterious and philosophical.

So I put it there.

Today I had an ah-ha moment. Nothing tumultuous happened. There was no spectacular comet shower. I was sitting at home in my pajamas, staring into space, and the ephemeral flash came – and went so quickly I had to jot it down before it disappeared again.

The phrase signifies my continuous strive to merge the private self into the public persona.

Through the days of perpetual anguish and self-flagellation that my existence was a mistake, depression prevailed. But it prevailed for a reason. It told me that something was not right in my life. Something needed change.

Was it the job? The relationship? The city I lived it?

Perhaps. But those were not the ultimate aspects.

I needed to change. I needed to stop putting on a mask. I needed to accept who I was – both the good bits and the bad bits, and accept the fact that the bad bits were not too bad. Everyone has his or her devilish domains.

For so many years, I strived to live up to an image, an expectation, and a reputation. I wanted to be liked, to be loved, and to be adored. I read all this literature about what a leader and manager should be like, what kind of girl can keep a man, and what obligations I must uphold as a daughter.

The world cherishes positive qualities, but of course, for who would not prefer to be in the company of someone who was calm, collected, humorous, and friendly, and to work with someone who was organized, confident, efficient, a team player and communicated clearly?

So I focused on establishing those qualities, improving them, and becoming better in those aspects. At the same time, I practiced suppressing the impatient impulses, the tantrums, the rage and sarcasm at stupidity, and the I-do-not-actually-care-what-you-are-wearing-today stoic expressions in lieu of the sociable, happy, bubbly me.

We exhibit the qualities we believe are called for. We censor the less desirable traits. Human nature. Understandable.

Not many people like to talk about stress, death, suicides, depression, anxiety, panic attacks. So we reword and focus on “how to be happy,” “how to live a fulfilling life,” how to find purpose,” “how to build rainbows”… Those are important too but need not be at the expense of ignoring the challenges, the negative emotions, and the challenges we face.

Unless we confront them, confront those facets of us we consider ugly, we are only sweeping what needs to be resolved under the carpet until one day we trip over the bulge that is not so hidden.

That was what happened to me. I lost myself. I fell over my own self. I forgot I had other characteristics that were also me, and defined me. It was okay to be me and hated once in a while.

Anger, sadness, agony, frustration, stress, rage, disappointment, diffidence, indifference… no one likes to talk to about them or dwell into the emotion. Each time I was sad someone was bound to tell me, “Just be happy! Forget those things! Don’t think like that! Many are less fortunate than you…” and I would feel guilty to pursue an understanding of why I felt sad. But what is wrong with appreciating the reasons behind my intense sorrow?

Those were signals from the universe, my body and my mind and soul converging to tell me I needed to makes changes in my life and unless I understand the signals, how would I know what to change?

So first step was to empathize and embrace my own emotions and qualities – all of them. Only then will I know who I am in private.

Second step then, is to be my private self even in public. And not to be afraid of doing so.

I will not always be able to smile at your nonsensical and irrelevant banter because sometimes I get tired too. And sometimes, I simply am not interested in how much money you spent buying another Ferrari. I was hoping to discuss the Third World War and sustainability issues with you. Thus, forgive me if I stop putting on my smiling mask. I am showing you, the real me.

That is the power of being me, being natural. That, is the power of change depression could initiate…

May my efforts be appreciated…

What masks do you wear everyday? For how much longer will you wear your masks?

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12 Responses

  1. Svante says:

    Two quotes by Jung.
    1. “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
    2. “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

    So in order to change yourself in the depth, we need to start by accepting ourselves. “Ourselves” deliberately in plural, and all of every one of “them”. This is indeed is a terrifying experience, partly because it means you will lose the former self.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Svante
      Honoured you chose to impart some wisdom on my humble site 🙂
      It indeed is a terrifying thing to accept myself, especially when I discover my “evil” sides – but then, who is to judge what is evil or not? The condemnation of “evil” has made me suppress too much…. now Nochie monster is about to liberate…
      So perhaps, Jung is the wiser one

  2. Nigel Chua says:

    Hi Nochie

    How’s things been? Long time no see =)

    Some do wear masks for as long as they live.

    Some realize they wear mask…some early, some late. Some change, some don’t.

    Some are happy wearing masks, some not.

    Some like masks, and even have multiple masks for “different occasions”

    …it doesn’t really matter – in the end, it’s statistical and empirical.

    What matters most truly is living meaningfully, doing things that bring meaning to our lives. Each has their own song they dance to.

    You too, and I pray and hope that you find your song, and dance like no one’s watching or judging. =)

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nigel

      Howz the new business set up? Decided on the tagline? 🙂

      yes. at the end, it’s all the same. So yes, today I got up and danced a little dance in my bear room for you and your wife for always supporting me from afar!
      No one was watching… except the bears…. 🙂


  3. black dog says:




    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Black Dog
      I don’t know either. I hv also realized though, that if i keep thinking about others, I get bitter and unhappy. So I stop asking why they can and I can’t, and just focus on my own improvement. And maybe, the “old” us is gone, I’m trying to get to know the “new” me, with the experience of depression and how it can make me stronger?

      How is your business going?
      Noch Noch

      • 黑狗 says:

        如果我们在朝着一个更好的自己而努力?那我们要成为“怎样”的 一个自己?有时我们抑郁是为了要变成更“积极”或“真实”自己?真实自己会让自己的一生被虚度了吗?如果真实的自己是“现在”的自己还是“以前”的自己?种种的疑惑缠绕在心里深处,不能散去。。。

        yes, it is not a rational thought, that is the whole point…我喜欢你说的这句话,这是我心里深处要表达,要表达的一样东西,我,已经无法理智的去思考,没有“力”再去思考。。。



        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Black Dog

          Oh I am sorry to hear of your business. Maybe you can do the business on your own? Do it at your own time and pace and whenver you want to
          Yeh, I don’t know how to decide which one is me. Maybe it’s too much for me to think about. I just live my day one day at a time now. Depends what I feel each day

          Noch Noch

  4. vijay pareek says:

    I love to read what you write, it seems that some one very close to me is writing for me…… in very simple language.

  5. aun says:

    noch noch,

    i have read and loved quite a few of your blog posts. after reading this one, i have to say something; you are perfect!

    thank you for sharing your story w us and opening our closed minds (at least mine).


about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.