This is the beginning of a series examining the power of truth-telling in life and art.
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
Do you hide parts of yourself, locking them up inside away from the world?
Do you keep them hidden out of fear, out of a sense that they are nobody’s business but your own, out of shame, or because you don’t even see them?
What would it be like to share them?
I have been explicitly thinking about the things we don’t talk about ever since seeing the title of Azar Nafisi’s second memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories.
There is a power in claiming our experience as true and sharing it. Not only for ourselves, but for each other.
Parker Palmer, in his article Now I Become Myself, excerpted from his book Let Your Life Speak, wrote, “It is a strange gift, this birthright gift of self. Accepting it turns out to be even more demanding than attempting to become someone else.” He goes on to point out that, “In families, schools, workplaces, and religious communities, we are trained away from true self toward images of acceptability; under social pressures like racism and sexism our original shape is deformed beyond recognition; and we ourselves, driven by fear, too often betray true self to gain the approval of others.”
One of the ways we betray ourselves is by keeping silent about our experiences.
And, one of the ways that we redeem ourselves is by bringing those secrets into the light.
If we dare to be ourselves, we set ourselves up for our own mental health. But more than that, by revealing our weaknesses and our struggles, we allow other people to see our humanity, to be touched by our stories, and to take healing power from our stories.
In this series, I will be reflecting on both the things that I have kept silent about and on the relationship between truth-telling and art. I hope you will join me.