Who are you at 10 past 2 ?

Some thoughts about the masks we wear, the acts we put on, and what it feels like when the masks and acts are dropped.  Who are you at 10 past 2 ?

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All the world’s a stage………

How often do we put on an act?  We don’t feel comfortable with people knowing how we feel, who we truly are.

Every week I meet many people, some I feel I know, others are total strangers.  One thing’s for certain – I don’t really know any of them as well as I think.

This week I gave a talk to a group of business people, shared a little of my story, and how the Thrive Programme helped me.  I had 20 minutes or so to get the message across to a group of mainly strangers.  I was really pleased when a number came to speak to me afterwards, all except one were complete strangers.

The one person I thought I knew shared with me the act he has been putting on.  On the face of it happy, confident, successful, but under the surface full of self doubt and concern for the future.  I first met this person over 12 months ago, we have had a few conversations since, but I didn’t know him at all – I knew his mask.

Shakespeare wrote the famous line:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”  

How right he was!


For the majority of my life I have worn masks.  These are not the masks of the children’s party, Halloween, or the masked ball, these were masks to hide my true feelings.

Eventually I received help to come out from behind my masks when I was asked by a Psychologist “Who is Ian”.

I proceeded to list each of my labels – “I am a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Son, Brother, Company Director, Businessman, Boss, Colleague.  The psychologist looked at me and simply replied “Yes, but who is Ian”.  I realised at that point I didn’t know. So used to hiding behind my masks I couldn’t say who I really was, what I wanted from my life, what I believed in.  I was “merely a player”.

I realised too that part of me had, for a very long time, been dissatisfied with these masks, that part was the real me who had stayed hidden.

10 past 2 ?

For many years I would wake up in the night, open one eye to look at the clock, and find it was 10 past 2.  It was dark, no sound from outside other than possibly rain or wind.  Nothing stirred within the house, everyone was asleep and here I was ‘alone’.  My wife slept peacefully alongside me oblivious to me lying there anything but peaceful.

You see, at that time of the morning, I was stripped of my masks.  It was then that I saw myself for what I was, my life for how I felt it was going.  I was anxious, depressed, panicky, and I didn’t know what to do.  This was the time I could look in the mirror and see me as I really thought I was.  No, not as I actually was because I was seeing myself in a massively negative way, without true perspective.  Nothing made any sense, there was no purpose to anything.

My nightly sleepless periods were very uncomfortable, reinforcing a tendency towards depressive and anxious thinking, and leading me to crave a rapid return to my masks.

What’s wrong with masks?

In one way absolutely nothing.  We all act differently in different situations.  We are unlikely to behave and speak in the same way at home and at a football match.  Speaking to the Boss is likely to be handled differently to talking in the canteen to workmates.  We all need these sorts of masks to ‘keep the peace’.

Children wear masks to temporarily become a character, hopefully not to hide behind per se.  And, although hardly an everyday occurrence, masked balls are still considered elegant and traditional.

When we constantly wear masks to hide who we truly are, how we really feel, and what we desire for our life, we can easily lose track of self.

At 10 past 2 I would lie there, torturing myself with negative thoughts and beliefs, feeding anxiety and depression on a nightly basis.  “Nobody will like me if they find out what I’m really like” .  “I’m not as clever/skilled/knowledgeable as I pretend to be” . “My health is beginning to suffer but I can’t stop drinking” .  All thoughts that would go through my unmasked mind.



As I have said I meet many people every week, and I see many masks.  Sometimes, as this week, an acquaintance unmasks themselves, at other times I am allowed glimpses behind the mask during conversations.

I no longer wake at 10 past 2 and if I do wake during the night it is for a call of nature not a period of negativity.  I am certain, however, that many people I meet are in such a pattern.  Their time may be different to mine, in a different place, for different reasons, but if they live behind masks a period of ‘self awareness’ is likely to be very uncomfortable.

Discarding our masks can feel, initially, uncomfortable but it is so worth it.  Earlier this year I was introduced to a young woman and I, along with the rest of the group I was with, immediately liked her.  There was something different about her that I couldn’t put my finger on.  And then it came to me – she doesn’t wear masks.  She is the same whenever and wherever I bump in to her, in company or not.  The fact that this person stands out so strongly is because non mask wearers and not only authentic, they are also unusual.


I am now thriving. I no longer have my collection of masks – I don’t need to hide behind them any more.  Even better I haven’t seen 10 past 2 for quite some time.  If I wake in the night I turn over and go back to sleep (maybe after a comfort break!).

I learnt how to be the real me using The Thrive Programme and my life changed so much I trained as a Consultant so I could teach others.  Anxiety and Depression are distant memories and I have taken back control of my life (and sleep).

The Thrive Programme is easy to understand and takes as little as six weeks to master.  You learn insights and skills that empower you so that you become the very best version of yourself.

Contact me now for details and to arrange a free, no obligation chat over a cup of coffee.  Put your 10 past 2’s behind you, lose your masks, and Thrive.


I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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