Monday, April 2, 2012

The trouble with secrets

Keeping secrets takes a lot of energy. Like I used to hide the fact that I work out. I'm not entirely sure why, but I have a theory. Working out meant admitting publicly that I was viciously obese. Now, in my head I know that's not neccessarily true. Lots of people work out who aren't obese. But knowing that in my head, didn't stop what I felt.

Somewhere along the line, I made a conscious decision not to keep my exercise regimen a secret and it really makes life so much easier. Here are a few things I learned keeping this and other secrets.

Sinitta dancing to her '80's hit Cross My Broken Heart (Told Me a Secret). Click pic to watch on Youtube. 


No offense. Even the most unselfish person in the world thinks of themselves as the centre of the universe (if only on occasion). We make a big deal out of things and think other people will make as big a deal. And maybe, once in a while, we're right. But even then, they go home and get engulfed in their own problems and forget about you and yours.


If you are keeping a secret about something that is a regular part of your life, what's your reason? Many creative people struggle with their creativity and keep it a secret. Creativity is not at all "practical."  And according to MBTI researchers, over 70% of the American population falls into the practical set. People are ashamed of their creative desires. Many people only reveal them when there's no way to hide any more, or when they've found some kind of success to validate them.

If you're doing something, be it writing, working out, watching Gossip Girl, or whatever, and it is something that you want to do, then that's all it needs to be valid. You don't have to justify yourself to anyone. And what they might possibly think is not a valid reason to keep a secret.


Tying into the last point, a major reason for keeping these types of secrets is shame. I'm bipolar. I'm really open about it on here --  I feel like a broken record -- but in real life it's really hard to say. Even though there's nothing I can do. Even though scientists now accept it as a brain disorder/dysfunction. It's still hard not to be ashamed. It's still hard not to keep it a secret.

Secret-keeping means always having to pretend. It means that whenever that certain thing comes up, you have to change the topic, or avoid the question. It means you can't do what you should/want to be doing.

Back when my workouts were Classified Information, it affected how I did them. I couldn't go to the gym, because one of my adult English class students works there. And I might run into someone I knew, or worse, one of my junior high students! I could only use my workout DVDs when the neighbours weren't home. And if they came home mid-workout, I would try to exercise as quietly as possible.

When you're keeping a secret, everything gets in the way.


A beautiful side effect of being open about my "secrets" is that it keeps me accountable. Every Monday, we work at the Board of Education. After work, I go to the gym. I don't think that my colleagues would say anything if I didn't go to the gym, but just knowing that they know has made me go on days I didn't want to. My writing is the same way. Now that I'm open about it, one of my girlfriends will ask me what I've written lately.


I'm not saying it's easy to throw caution to the wind, and be open about the cards you play close to your heart. But consider that it can have positive side effects. Do you have any secrets that needn't really be hidden? Have you ever? 

1 comment:

Asia Morela said...

Very true! Deciding not to keep certain things secret anymore means your whole perspective on your own life has changed/will change, often in a good way. Secrets create worry.

For the longest time I claimed that I don't know what I want to do after I graduate, which was a way of not committing, but also partly a lie. I've always known I wanted to write, but I didn't want to be judged or interrogated. People who don't write always want to know, or even read what you write...

But then I realized: I write to be published and read, don't I? Feeling embarrassed about what I write isn't a good sign that I am ready to write professionally. So I've decided to start talking about it openly. I would have had to at some point anyway.