Embracing Authenticity: Shedding the Masks We Wear

Dec 1, 2023

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I'm Kelley — licensed therapist, burnout expert, and host of the Black Girl Burnout podcast. I encourage black women to opt out of struggle and opt into our legacy of joy and accomplishment. Join me!

Meet Kelley

Today we’re exploring a topic close to our hearts: the metaphorical masks we wear. These masks represent the different personas we adopt to navigate societal expectations, protect ourselves, or fit in. But what happens when these masks start to hide our true selves?

The Challenge of Authenticity

Authenticity is often celebrated, yet achieving it is a complex journey. Many of us, including myself, grapple with the gap between our authentic selves and the personas we present to the world. This disparity raises an important question: why do we feel compelled to wear these masks?

Cultural Conditioning and Survival

Our inclination to mask our true identities is deeply rooted in cultural conditioning. Historically, showing our authentic selves has been met with punishment or fear, especially in marginalized communities. For instance, the “strong black woman” stereotype is a mask that implies resilience but also burdens us with unrealistic expectations.

Personal Reflections on Mask-Wearing

My personal experiences with covert racism taught me to hide my true self as a safety mechanism. This led to a significant disconnect between who I was and how I was perceived. In professional settings, this often manifests as code-switching, a common form of mask-wearing.

The Cost of Mask-Wearing

While masks can provide short-term benefits, they ultimately distance us from joy, abundance, and community. Recognizing when our masks hinder rather than help us is crucial for our well-being and self-fulfillment.

Unmasking Our True Selves

The journey to removing our masks and embracing authenticity is challenging but rewarding. It begins with self-acceptance and awareness. Journaling and mindfulness are powerful tools in this journey, helping us uncover and align with our true selves.

Reflective Practices for Authentic Living

To start unmasking, engage in reflective practices. Consider your recent decisions and their alignment with your true self. Use the “why” exercise to delve deeper into your motivations and choices. This self-reflection, though sometimes uncomfortable, is key to living authentically.

Conclusion: The Path to Authentic Empowerment

Living authentically is a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It involves understanding and resisting societal pressures to conform. By embracing our true selves, we open ourselves to a life of genuine connections, fulfillment, and empowerment.


Are you a black woman who has been feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and confined to the struggle? If so, the Black Girl Burnout podcast is here for you. Journey along with host Kelley Bonner as she interviews guests and shares personal anecdotes about productive ways to opt-out of struggle and opt into happiness,  while navigating the unique challenges and joys of being a black woman in today’s world. From work and relationships to self-care and mental health, this podcast is a safe space to explore and find support along the journey towards your goals. Join our community and start feeling more connected and less burnt out.

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