November 19, 2013

We All Have Secret Lives.

There’s a game going around on Facebook where people receive a number and list things about themselves that others may not know.

I have participated and enjoyed reading various things about my friends—many of whom I have know for over 20 years .

While it’s just harmless fun, it’s amazing to see how many things I (and others) did not know about the people we call friends and family. It’s made me reflect on the fact that we all have things about us that few will ever know about.

To some extent, all of us have “secret lives.”

While some of us have some big secrets—I know of at least two people whose respective fathers had second families—most of us just have “little things” that we chose to keep from others. For example, before I started writing here, few people knew I had an interest in writing. It’s not something that I chose to keep secret. Rather, I just didn’t think it was something that was very interesting about me, so I did not bring it up.

There are also other things about me—i.e., my past life as a movie reviewer or the fact that I love ballroom dancing—that few people know about as well.

Still, I was surprised to hear a number of people say they didn’t feel like they knew me well. Again, it’s not like I ever deliberately set out to hide things from people. My perception of myself is that of a fairly open person: if someone wants to ask me something, I usually have no problems answering.

However, when I stopped to think about it, we as a society don’t usually ask people personal questions about themselves. Even amongst those we call friends, few of us ever venture that far from the usual, “Hi. How are you doing?” or “How are things?”.

Plus, the answer to such questions is usually, “Fine” whether that actually tends to be the case or not.

Sometimes I think it’s impossible to ever completely know myself much less another person. Therefore, the idea that most of us will never know about the secret lives of others does not bother me, but rather comforts me.

The truth is, my secret or arguably not-so-secret life allows me to have a sort of refuge from every day life. Don’t get me wrong, my everyday life is far from bad, but it often does not leave me a lot of time to do some things I would really like to do such as get in touch with my creative side.

Also, I feel when no is there to watch me or criticize me, I can be a lot more free. I give myself a lot more permission to make mistakes or even completely fail because I know that no one will probably ever know about these things unless I tell them.

Lastly, I feel that having a bit of space or privacy even from those you love the most is essential to one’s well-being.

My late grandmother use to say she didn’t think it was “normal” for husbands and wives to know every little minute detail about one and other. I used to think that was odd but now that I am older, it makes sense. Some mystery can be a good thing.

The element of unexpected surprise can be good as well even from someone who think you know as well as the back of your own hand.

In this day and age of social media, tell-all memoirs, and blogging, keeping somethings only to oneself can be seen not only as wise, but also a tad necessary. Rather than be worried or ashamed of our secret lives or those of others, they should be celebrated as a way to keep some of our inner most dreams, desires, and creativity alive.

Plus, we always have the option of letting those in whom we wish to share them with.

Sometimes, it really is best to keep some things a secret.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: CEB imagery






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