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10.21.2008

Secrets


I recently came across a website called PostSecret. A guy by the name of Frank started encouraging people to write their secrets on a postcard and sending them to him. They could choose to be completely anonymous. Over time, this has grown into a small movement, where Frank has been invited to speak at various places, especially colleges (including my alma mater, though it has been since I graduated). He talks about how he his always amazed at how many people will be willing to get up in front of a crowd of strangers and share their innermost secrets. There's also an online community where people post their cell phone numbers and invite others to text them a secret, to which they will respond with one of their own. Those who have participated often describe the experience as freeing. Frank says, "share your secrets and free yourself to be yourself..."

I'm not the type to be too emotionally touchy-feely. I often reference my self-constructed "emotional wall" that prohibits me from expressing any emotion too severely. It's not fun and there are many times where I wish I knew how to get rid of it. In any case, this idea of sharing dark secrets with people who just hear them and accept them and then share their own is slightly refreshing to me.

I have my fair share of secrets. I suppose we all do. I also think we all think we each have the worst secrets ever. I believe the only thing that gives a secret power is silence. Once a secret has been revealed, whatever power it held dissapates. It is no longer a secret, it no longer has an identity. The other thing is that whether revealed or not, the secret stays true. I suppose keeping a secret quiet is one way for us to pretend it isn't true, and I guess that's what really fuels secret keeping. If we don't talk about it, then it's not really true or not really bad.

But I'm pondering Frank's call to reveal secrets so that we can be our true selves. I struggle with this idea that because I have secrets that I don't share, somehow I'm not authentic. I gather that what he probably really means is that when you don't have the burden of holding on to a secret, you can just... relax. My other question is, do you really have to share a secret to free yourself? Is holding on to secrets really the worst thing? Some secrets have to be told -- many of the secrets I read on PostSecret reference childhood losses of innocence. Those types of secrets have to be shared, but don't some secrets actually strengthen bonds? Like the secrets little girls share with each other about boys they like, or even women who share secrets about how much they hate their relationships.

Secrets can serve greater purposes and sometimes, letting the cat out of the bag may do more harm than good. I think only secrets that start to weigh you down and make your heart heavy need to be told. We all need our secrets... it's what makes us worth getting to know.

2 comments:

joann said...

I don't really feel comfy telling people a lot of my secrets. I use www.answerjam.com to 'share' my secrets with people but they don't need to know who I am. Sometimes it helps just to get things off my chest.

A.Smith said...

And I can definitely respect getting stuff off your chest. I always need to do that (which is why I have a blog)... I just think secrets can serve a myriad of purposes and I don't think they always stop you from being your true self.

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