Someone recently asked me – What do you disclose about yourself to others, and what do you keep hidden?
They were trying to figure out how much of themselves, their life, to reveal to others through writing. They were not asking me the question seeking an answer, but more to know what my approach is, to get feedback, and, through that feedback, find their own answer. Which is the way to do it, because for every question we ask, although there are a multitude of answers, the only correct answer is the one which belongs to you, personally, deeply. Trust your intuition and instincts, they know what is right for you.
I asked myself a similar question when I started blogging, and using social media. For me, most of the answers to my questions reveal themselves in the doing. I do stuff, and then find out if it is right or wrong for me. I am an experimenter. I tend to learn things best the hard way, by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Adapting, adjusting, changing, and transforming myself as I go along. Trying not to look back too often, although it is sometimes necessary and useful, but to keep moving forward, even when looking backwards. I sometimes trip over an obstacle when I do that, but I’m used to falling over, and I have a very hard head. Which is true in many ways.
I am very stubborn. I don’t tend to take advice from other people. Sure, I’ll listen to it, and consider its value, but advice is something which comes from someone else’s experience, coloured by their life, their perceptions, their fears and hopes, their mistakes, failures, and successes. They are unique. So am I. What applies to them, may well apply to me too, or not at all, the only way for me to find that out is to do it myself. Have my own experience. Create my own advice, for myself, rather than for others.
I remember reading a while ago some very striking words (uttered by the Dalai Lama, I think) – If someone offers you a gift, you do not have to accept it.
I grabbed that snippet of wisdom, and ran with it, applying it to everything. If someone asks you a question, you do not have to answer it. If someone offers you advice, you do not have to take it. If someone gives you a compliment or a criticism, you do not have to accept it. And so on, into infinity and beyond! It radicalised my experience of life, and of relationships. Stupidly, I always thought that I had to take whatever was offered to me, just in case it was the only thing I was ever offered, and because it was the polite thing to do.
So… If someone wants to know something about you, you do not have to reveal it. Reveal only that which you are comfortable revealing. The only time to reveal more than what you are comfortable with, is when you are challenging yourself to move beyond the limits you have set for yourself. Not because someone else wants you to do it. Especially not if their motives are shady, or inspired by idle, passing curiosity. Their motives may be pure, they may be genuinely interested in knowing more about you, if that is the case then they can probably find out what they want to know by observing you. We reveal everything that anyone needs to know about us all the time, in our words, in our expressions, in our gestures, in our interactions, etc. We leak our natures, like sweat, from every pore of our skin. Our energy expands far beyond our physical form, touching all that is around us. Those who care to know, can know. As for the others, they never really needed to know.
I do believe that we are here to share who we are with others. That is our purpose. To give of ourselves, our uniqueness, our energies, our natures. To inspire, interact, experience, and evolve through doing all of those, and through absorbing that which others share of themselves. But I also believe that we have to keep a part of ourselves a never to be revealed secret. Not a shameful secret, but as a haven, for those times when we lose ourselves, forget who we are, get overwhelmed by others. A place within where we can retreat to, to remember ourselves, to be who we are, uninfluenced, or intermingled with others. We are one and we are all. It is important to maintain that balance. To share and to not share.
If you were to reveal everything about yourself to another, there would be nothing left just for you. You would be completely transparent. No mystery to make the other wonder. And it is a very intricate part of life to maintain a certain air of mystery. We all love a secret smile. We all know what it means, without needing or wanting to know what inspired it. Such is life.
Also, as much as it seems desirable to have another person know and want to know everything about us, have you ever noticed how unnerving it is when someone does. Especially when someone seems to know more about us than we know ourselves. In those moments, do you ever think… they think they know everything about me, but I have a secret self whom they know nothing about and will never be able to find. Yes. No. Or is it just me.
I enjoy having a secret side to myself, and I enjoy sharing as much of me as I feel comfortable sharing. Sometimes I share a little more, to challenge myself, afterwards I usually retreat to my secret haven. For a while. Then, I reemerge once more from my me-cave, refreshed, ready to play with others again.
So, over to you… What do you disclose about yourself to others, and what do you keep hidden?