Monday, November 29, 2010


Recommended listening: Secret by The Pierces

Every Sunday morning the first thing I do is type into my browser. I am immediately taken to a blog filled with postcards from people all over the world sent to Frank Warren. PostSecret started off as a small community project where participants were simply asked to anonymously send in a secret on a decorated postcard. However, PostSecret is now an on-going global project and Warren travels around the country speaking and displaying secrets. Additionally, five PostSecret books have been published.
Although I have never personally sent in a secret, I love reading and looking at those that other people choose to share. Some are heart-breaking, confessing abuse or a life of regret. Others are light and funny, detailing little pet-peeves or pranks. Regardless of the secret, I am able to connect, in one way or another, with many of the postcards Frank posts. I think this connection stems from the fact that, big or small, there are many things in our lives that we keep more-or-less private and to ourselves. So, although our secrets may be different, having secrets makes us similar.
But, after weeks upon weeks of anticipating secrets, I couldn't help but think, What is it like for someone who sends in a secret? What does it do to your mind and soul to keep a secret bottled up inside? What happens to your identity when you shield an aspect of yourself from those around you?

Keeping a Secret
In my own personal experience, keeping a secret to yourself can create quite the identity crisis. If there is a big part of yourself you are hiding, it can consume you. It can be exhausting living in secrecy. Depending on the size of the secret it can then impact other aspects of one's identity. Furthermore, it is difficult to be genuine with those around you if you are keeping a secret from them.
For example, if a man is trying to hide the fact that he had an affair he may potentially begin acting differently towards his partner, therefore shaping his identity as a spouse.

Sharing a Secret
The simple act of telling your secret, or perhaps sending in a postcard, can be liberating. Although potentially very frightening, the opportunity to share a secret allows one to be honest and genuine. By acknowledging whatever the secret may be the severity of it can be diminished and a weight lifted off one's shoulders.
For example, if the same cheater comes clean then he and his partner may have the opportunity to reconcile the situation or at least deal with the secret.*

Impact of a Secret
After sharing a secret there is opportunity for self growth. Once a secret is out in the open people then have the chance to incorporate whatever element of themselves or their past they were hiding into their daily being.
For example, regardless of how the cheating situation turns out, by acknowledging what happened the cheater may then move on with the secret as only one aspect of his overall personality rather than a large blunder he had attempted to veil.

Fortunately, I have chosen to share my secret(s) with people I trust and it has made being myself that much easier.

What happens next?
Ideally, people accept you. I think the main concern keeping people from sharing their secrets is a fear of being judged or perceived differently. People generally work very hard to uphold an image, and if a secret is significant enough it can tear that image apart. However, if the response to your secret is positive, it helps you construct a more complete identity. One's self cannot be whole if something is being hidden.

*This article discusses how secrets impact the family dynamic once they are brought to the surface.

The man who keeps a secret may be wise, but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep.
Edgar Watson Howe


  1. I'm so glad you decided to write about this :) As you know, post secret is one of my favorite websites ever! I am addicted to reading what other people have to say. Getting lost in other people's minds has become my favorite past time. I love the website because I think it is truly the first step accepting your secret. Even if you can't tell the people you love, telling the world and acknowledging it is so important. We all suffer so much because we hide behind these walls that we think make others like us, but we never give people the chance to love us for who we really are. By telling out secrets, we open up so many possibilities for our relationships and lives. I could not be more honored any time someone lets me into their life and tells me there secret. After all, that is what brought us together and helped make us best friends!


  2. Jamie, I just want to start out by saying how beautiful this post is. As you very well know there several people out there that have secrets they are dying to share, but do not feeling comfortable doing so. You amaze me with how easily you create a comfortable and safe environment for people do share some of their most personal stories. People truly look up to you, myself included, and you do an incredible job of making the world a better place. Please, please continue to be the inspiring and lovable person that you are, people can only benefit from having you in their lives.

  3. Hey Jamie :]
    First of all, I'm glad to be a formatting inspiration for you! Secondly, I really like this topic and I think that secrets are definitely a huge part of our identities. This post was really well done! Being someone who has gone from an open book to only telling a select few many things about my life, I totally agree with you that whether you choose to share your secrets or not can have a large impact on who you are. I think that there is a happy medium when it comes to sharing secrets because they are something special to you that you should only share with people that have earned the privilege of the information. But everybody needs somebody, whether it is a friend or somebody like Frank, to tell their secrets to at some point, because keeping them bottled up forever isn't healthy.

  4. Loved this post and all the comments on it! Jamie, this was a fantastic topic to choose, and as someone who has recently shared some of those secrets you talk about, I really feel that I have grown as a person and taken the weight off my shoulders, as you say. What a powerful blog idea-- and one that needed to be shared.

    P.S. Nice article on family relationships, too.

  5. Jamie! I love your blog! I just read your whole blog and it is very interesting, especially this post. Secrets are a great topic to write about and you did a phenomenal job discussing the many different aspects of secrets. I think the site that you posted( is great. I had never heard of it before and after checking it out I think it is a good outlet for people that need to get something off their chest. Though that website may not be as beneficial as telling a trusted confidant or family. I'm exceedingly happy that I can count you as trusted member of my "family"! Also I really liked how you brought up the idea of people being afraid of to share their secrets because it may change people's perception of them because it is something that I had never consciously thought about. I never thought about the reasoning behind why I would be keeping a secret besides the obvious that I didn't want people to know but that idea really got me thinking :) Overall awesome post and I love the song!

  6. Jamie,

    I found your post incredibly thought-provoking. Secrets have also always fascinated me; as a rather private person, I can't help but wonder how much other people keep hidden, and how much more complex people's lives are than they seem. I think it's human nature to assume that we know all there is to know about a person after a certain length of time or a certain degree of friendship, but the truth is, we all have secrets.

    I think you did a wonderful job of organizing your thoughts in this post. As always, I also really enjoyed the links, quote, and recommended listening!

  7. Jamie this post is fantastic! It makes me so thankful for my Kairos family. A little over a week ago I learned just how much secrets can shape a person and how much revealing them can change a person. I believe that secrets are not who we are, but secrets are who we are not. Our secrets should not have to define us. If we're honest with ourselves and with others, we can characterize ourselves by who we truly are, not by who we aren't. I love you!

  8. Jamie-
    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog.. Syd told me she showed it you.. I love feedback.
    Anyway, I cannot believe your thoughtfulness in the wide range of topics you discuss in your blog. It's really amazing...I'm enjoying reading through it.
    Are you looking to go to school for writing at all?
    Keep writing, I look forward to reading more of what you have to say, and keep following mine as well! :)

  9. Thank you to everyone for your comments!! I appreciate them so much :) I love the feedback.

    As for pursuing writing, I'm flattered but I am actually planning on majoring in Psychology. This blog is for my English class so I tried to find a link between English and Psych, and then came across Identity Construction. I do loveee writing though and plan to take more courses in college!

  10. What you wrote about secrets is correct in a numerous amount of aspects. We've all had our secrets and keeping it bottled up in side you just feel the need to tell somebody, anybody at that. The anxiety one experiences while holding a secret and the relief one feels after letting it out are great weights. You obtain a slight taste of freedom and self growth definitely occurs when your secret is known by many. I completely agree with everything you've written and you seem to be an extremely insightful person.