Monday, March 26, 2007

Can you keep a secret?

We all have our secrets, some we are more ashamed to admit than others, and some which we’d deny to the grave. Whether you secretly wish that your gorgeous best friend would get fat and break up with her boyfriend, just so that you’d feel less inadequate, or that your crush would find out that you like him just so that you wouldn’t have to face telling him yourself, the secrets are still there.

If we all have these secrets, and hence all relate to each other in one way or another, why is it so difficult to admit them to each other? As a society, we have outlined what is acceptable, what is unacceptable and what is, the worst of them all, downright politically incorrect! Being jealous of someone who’s been in an accident for getting all the attention and leaving you out in the cold is plain wrong, as is being happy that the girl you secretly envy is being cheated on by her boyfriend. But the truth is, some people secretly believe that these things will make them happy—and in the end, how different are they from you and me?

It is my belief that it is not the nature of the secret that we are ashamed of, but rather the reaction by other people around us. Above all, we fear judgment from others, as if that will some way dictate our self-worth; and even if this is judgment from someone we have never met. Our deepest darkest secrets remain deep and dark for a reason, and that is because they are deep and dark and possibly very twisty but they are what makes us human. But they are never easy to admit.

PostSecret (as well as hard copy collections compiled by Frank Warren) has been an initiative that has interested and intrigued me since I came across the first collection on a rainy day when I had escaped into an Urban Outfitters store, and secretly flipped through the book, a glance over my shoulder with every flip of the page. I related to some secrets, shocked by others and as cliché as it sounds, felt hopeful that I wasn’t alone in feeling so many of the things that other people, people that I may never meet, were feeling too.

So then I started thinking a little about my own secrets, and which of my secrets I would share if I decided to send one. Would I send the one that I thought most people would relate to? Or would I send the one that haunted me the most? Would I care what people thought of me, as anonymous as I would be? And would I worry that someone would recognize me through my secret, that someone being the only one who really knew me?

Mostly, I wondered if sharing my secret anonymously and with strangers would change anything at all. Would it give me the courage to make the changes in my life that I want so badly to make? Would this finally be the catalyst that I have waiting expectantly, and a little impatiently, for? Or would it be another way to further procrastinate? Was I placing all my hopes on one flimsy 6x4 postcard?

In the end, there was only one way to find out.