Derek Sivers started writing again and in a recent post called Why my code and ideas are public he recalls a conversation with a friend. during a dinner conversation, she said:

“I’m not worried about someone finding out my secrets, because secrets are just facts, right? So if someone is going through my private things, for example, and gets upset about what they find, then that’s their problem, not mine!”

He liked the attitude and it caused him to question his own secrets just as I did mine many years ago.

I had my secrets. They too were locked away in a notebook. I used to keep one in my pocket or backpack when I went to school. Growing up, I wrote in it everyday. I wrote poetry, terrible teenage angst poetry.

I wrote about the hurt I was feeling over my parent’s divorce. I wrote about how I felt isolated in the small town where I grew up. I felt like a freak to those around me. Being 6’5′ and preferring poetry to football helped that alienation.

It was all so real and raw and painful. I let myself out upon those pages. In varying colors of ink my emotions flowed out in words.

And I never shared them. With anyone. For any reason. Ever.

sunset hair
By Alexander Shustov via Unsplash

I was sure, if found, it would lead to questions I didn’t want to answer. It would lead to trouble. Because when I let my uncensored words out, they were painful. They were emotions I didn’t know what to do with so I wrote them down.

I kept my writing secret. It was for me. It didn’t need to be shared with anyone. It made me feel better. That’s all it needed to do. That’s all I required of it. Helping me to get through the dark nights and sometimes darker dawns.

Then I got involved with my school’s literary magazine.

I read writings from my peers. I read their pain. I read their confusion. I read their love. I read their passion. And I learned I wasn’t alone.

I wasn’t the only person who had fears and confusion and hurt. It was universal. I was not alone.

Learning this was the greatest lesson of my life. I am not alone! And it was liberating. It made me reconsider keeping everything I had secret.

I realized it didn’t matter how people reacted to what I wrote. It was what I felt. It was my reality, my life, my pain, my joy. It was me. My writing was myself on paper.

So I shared.

I submitted some of my writing to the magazine. Some of it was good enough to get published. Much of it was garbage. But some was good enough to earn a spot in the magazine.

This build my courage. When people told me they liked a line or a phrase, or even the entire piece it was a huge confidence boost.

It was very liberating to not only know I wasn’t alone, but to know I had found people who understood me.

My secrets, when confronted with the harsh light of day weren’t so important.