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Three of My Darkest Secrets: To Disclose or Not to Disclose

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Three of My Darkest Secrets: To Disclose or Not to Disclose

discloseTo disclose or not to disclose,

That is the question of the day,

Whether tis nobler in mind to conceal all your dirty linen,

Or to wash it all in the public eye, and by so doing,

You come clean of all your past missteps.

Brene Brown, a researcher at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and a highly acclaimed TED speaker says “connection is the essence of the human spirit.”

She clarifies that self disclosure helps us to connect better with others. It however takes a lot of courage to self disclose.

Sometimes I wonder how much self-disclosure is too much or too little to connect or disconnect.

Unfortunately in most cultures, we are taught not to disclose doubt, worry, uncertainty or any spec of human weakness.  We are taught to project ourselves as tough generals on the outside. Who knows what is happening on the inside?

In Africa I learned, “A man ’s tears must never be seen. A true man must swallow his tears.” Yes, that is Bantu saying common in Cameroon.

It is OK to show your vulnerability, Brown says.

It does not mean you go around showing everyone your blisters, bruises and all the scars you have gotten from life. 

I believe it means as humans, we don’t need to to pretend that all is perfect, because it is not. Instead, we can share what needs to be shared because that is makes us human. Whatever makes us human, makes us relatable.

NB: If what you share is too ordinary, it won’t be remembered. If it has some unique details, it sticks and generates compassion.

By sharing, we free ourselves of guilt. We also share as a way of healing.  When you do that, the issue will no longer hold you hostage. 

Being vulnerable earns us compassion and empathy, however, that is not the purpose of sharing. When there is no compassion, there is no empathy, and when there is no empathy, nobody will extend a hand to help another.

In the interest of self-disclosure I want to share three of my many dark secrets that I have never shared publicly. Each one of them deserves a story of its own.

Here are three of my of darkest secrets:

  1. I sold condoms condoms to pay my way through college, one of many other jobs I did.
  2. In 7th Grade, I was suspended from class for 4 days for leading a swimming expedition without adult permission. That was a category A offense in my village.
  3. I narrowly missed going into the boy ’s reformatory prison (Borstal Institute) for juvenile misconduct.

Am sorry if you were ever thought I was saint. I just spilled the beans. I hope these were not too caustic for your liking. Can you share one of your dark secrets with me? I will keep it secret.