“Who am I?” This age-old question is one of the most important you will ever ask or answer. And, while you are answering that question, another similar, but substantially different, question might present itself: What parts of yourself do you keep secret from others?
What do you do when you are alone that you would rather no one find out about? Do you read trashy novels, talk to your plants, or consume ice cream by the quart? Do you indulge in self-destructive activities like illegal drugs or excessive alcohol use? Do you use language you would be embarrassed to have overheard, or let the dishes pile up in the sink for days?
If you do things you would not want anyone to find out about, another question is likely to present itself: What do you do about that part of yourself that abhors both the behavior and the deceit? Do you have to ignore part of yourself in order to keep your secret? What does it cost you to do that?
Some secrets are just a harmless way to have privacy. Others are terribly destructive. They undermine relationships and cause us to lose self-respect. It is impossible to be a whole and happy person as long as we believe there are parts of ourselves that are so unacceptable we have to keep them hidden.
While we are on the subject, here are a few more questions that might need to be answered by each of us: What price do you pay to keep your secrets? Do these secrets stop you from being the person you would most like to be? How might you benefit from being more open or eliminating certain behaviors altogether?
Our answers may not come quickly, and some may cause painful emotions when the answers finally arrive. But these questions are important in answering the ultimate question, “Who am I?” And they are even more important when the next question comes: “Who do I want to be?”