by Kit Murray
Imagine going on a first date with someone you like. They’re attractive, funny and can quote the best lines from “The Office.” Now, imagine having to introduce them to each of the skeletons hiding in your closet — even the ones pushed so far back you haven’t thought about them in a while. Do you think they would see you again?
We all have secrets we’re generally too afraid to share. The app Whisper is a sort of anonymous Twitter just for them:
“I danced with two people at my wedding — the one I married and the one I wish I married, instead.”
“I got drunk at 9 a.m. because I was nervous before my first day as a teacher.”
“I work at a hotel. The blankets only get washed once a year.”
Upon first visiting the page, I thought it was a joke. But, evidently, many people use it to let go of what’s weighing them down.
But secrets aren’t necessarily corrosive to our well-being — they’ll always be a part of who we are. One of my favorite Socrates quotes is “Know thyself.” Figuring out who we truly are isn’t easy, but putting our secrets under a magnifying glass is helpful in discovering our authentic selves.
Some people find peace in writing their secrets down. About a decade ago, Maryland resident and PostSecret founder Frank Warren asked people to send him their secrets anonymously. For the last ten years, his mailbox has received the secrets of strangers almost every day. More than half a million postcards from around the world have shared secrets like, “I never thought I’d love heroin more than my son.”
Warren said he sees the project as a means of shedding light on the darknesses we hide within ourselves.
We’re often blind to the effect our secrets have on us.
One of mine, for example, is my lack of a family. I have one in the biological sense; they exist and sometimes comment on my Facebook photos. But I don’t have an immediate family I consider a support system. For that reason, I have a chosen family I’ve comprised of old and new friends. It’s a family that’s shaped who I am, but I’ve had to support myself in a lot of different ways from a young age.
The prospect of sharing this with someone on a first date is scary. I fear not having a family will push people away.
But whatever it is we have in our closets, we must accept the challenge of digging through it and getting to know the skeletons that live among it. Open those doors, and let the bones fall out. Better yet, let them crash on top of you.