Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Secrets We Keep

In a conversation two nights ago, I was with a group of friends with the conversation turned to secrets. This came about because while hanging out at a diner, someone (who shall remain nameless) decided to go through my purse. They picked out a letter I'd written to my sister and began to read it aloud. I got really upset at the invasion of privacy, and ended up literally diving across the table to retrieve it. That sparked a discussion of things we don't tell others, and resulted in one of the people at the table announcing that he had no secrets at all, and didn't mind sharing every aspect of his life with anyone else. (He also went on to try and prove that point, which was another interesting conversation, but back to the original subject.)

That got me thinking, what secrets do I hide from people? And why? Why even keep secrets? I'll focus on the why first. I can't speak for others, but I hold people's secrets for them to the extent I'll pretend to know less about them than I really do. I think we all do this to some extent for people we care about. I doubt many of us have secrets that people's lives depend on (thinking James Bond here), but occasionally a secret kept can make a world of difference in social situations. The vice-versa applies as well. I had an ex-boyfriend who demanded that I tell him everything that was going on with me, until I would purposely hold back little stories and information from him just so I could feel like I was a separate identity. I also don't tell people things unless they ask specifically. Not that my life is super-secret, but that I don't like to tell someone something unless they're going to care. I guess I feel that my secrets are gifts that I give once I trust somebody. I know for a fact this applies to others as well.

So, what secrets do I hide? I would ask what secrets people hide in general, but since the thing with secrets is that they are by nature, secret, I only really know my own. After all, once a secret is shared it isn't secret to you anymore. I'd tell you but then I wouldn't have secrets anymore...

Are there things you don't tell anyone? Is it still a secret if you tell certain people but not others? I've found that once you tell one person that you really trust about something, if it's a big enough secret they'll tell someone they trust as well, thinking that it'll be kept secret. That person will tell another, and another, until almost everyone knows. What about secrets that you write down? Those don't stay secret for long, things that are written can be read. If you don't tell anyone, or write it down though, then the secret has to stay inside. Depending on the weight given to the information, that secret may become harmful if you can't let it out.

Perhaps too much weight is given to secrets, I think a big part of keeping secrets so so that we as humans can feel special and unique for having a bit of information no one else has. Is it possible for someone to be so confident in themselves as a person that they don't mind telling someone anything and everything about their lives? The answer to that is yes, but the follow-up question is why? Why would you tell someone everything, assuming that someone is just any random person. Perhaps that's the secret to secrets, tell people who don't care and then they will forget. That way you don't carry the information around, and the secret is safe with someone who has forgotten that they carry it.

I guess the point of this story is that I don't believe that someone can not have secrets, we all have things that we refuse to share, and we all have our own personal reasons for doing so.  I'll tell two small secrets of my own as a reward for making it all the way through this post, and to prove the point.

A little over a year ago I was present when my grandpa passed away at home. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, but ever since I have been unable to sit in the chair that he died in. It just doesn't seem right to me, although no one else in my family has that problem. I'll also never tell my grandma that secret because I think it would hurt her, as the chair is a special connection to him in her mind.

The second is that whenever Buttercup falls into the quicksand and Westley dives after her, I hold my breath to see if it's actually possible to survive that long without breathing. It is, but I generally don't tell people that for fear they'll think it's stupid. (The Princess Bride :)

So, two secrets, two reasons for keeping them. What secrets do you keep?


  1. He's bluffing. His secret is that he has secrets he won't share. Also, I really really really liked that line about sharing secrets with people who forget they carry them. It's just... worded nicely and is an excellent thought to the extent that I'm going to screen shot it on my phone and instagram it.

    1. I think you're right :) I'm glad you liked it!