“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” – George Orwell
When I was ten I masturbated for the first time. Having never heard of or witnessed masturbation, I coined the act my “deepest, darkest secret,” deducing that hidden activities equaled shameful activities. Every time I masturbated I felt guilty, fearing my parent’s reaction and worried my friends would find me as abnormal as I felt. I judged myself so harshly that I assumed everyone else would as well. Had I spoken about it, and had the world been accepting enough to let me, I would have learned that masturbation is both natural and healthy. We keep secrets and lie because we’re afraid of judgment and criticism. By labeling certain topics as forbidden, we stunt self-understanding and go farther from knowing self-love. If we don’t accept ourselves we judge others more quickly, severing the possibility for true intimacy. We may also manipulate ourselves and our values to fit the image we believe others want or expect.
Create a life that doesn’t need to be taped together by deceit. Work towards eliminating self-destructive and negative emotions—jealousy, hate, self-doubt—by figuring out and resolving their origins. Be proud of who you are and be kind to yourself. If someone betrays your trust, don’t blame yourself for not being a mind reader; recognize that their disloyalty reflects where they are in their life—not where you are in yours. Take pride in being open and free of cynicism. Mistakes are normal and teach us patterns to avoid. Don’t judge others, because although their mistakes might not be the same as yours, they too are just trying to find their way and figure themselves out.
People often tell me I’m lying when I say I don’t have any secrets. I don’t, and in fact I rarely lie (I find “white lies” even more incomprehensible than larger ones). Every action I’ve willingly chosen to do, so how can I be embarrassed? How hypocritical would it be if I were? Similarly, unwanted and unwholesome actions inflicted upon me are not my fault, say nothing about my character, and are not disgraceful. Living shame-free and being unapologetically myself, I don’t feel the need to conceal or lie. It’s taken a few decades to get here, but I finally know who I am. In the shortest of descriptions, I am 24-years-old, biologically female but gender fluid, pansexual, a feminist, environmentalist, sex fanatic, food enthusiast, and animal lover. Trust me, I’m not the most virtuous or respectable person out there. I do a lot of stupid stuff, but I do try to be a good, kind person and I’m not afraid of being judged. If someone shames me because of something I’ve done—if they judge me based on one action without understanding my intentions, beliefs or desires—then I don’t need approval from that person anyway.