We all have secrets. The good, the bad, and the dirty. That’s how mine felt. Dirty. Wrong. But oh, so good.
I had a need that I could not reconcile. It was as if something inside of me was shoving at my skin, struggling to break free. This force seemed to come out of nowhere, beginning randomly one day with a single thought that spiraled into a tornado. It was wild force of nature, unyielding to my will. I was instantly caught up in its power, spinning wildly with thrill, but to the outside world, the weather was calm. There was no storm raging that anyone else could see, because I kept it secret. Hidden. And it became my dark pleasure.
I would wait all day for those dark hours at night, when all the world was asleep, and no one would catch me. I would turn on the computer, careful that no one was looking over my shoulder, and I would write.
Writing may not seem like a major transgression to most, but it was near shameful for me. I wasn’t a writer. I was an artist. My circle of family and friends held writers, but I was not one of them. My medium was paint, pencil and ink. I was a storyteller, but only in the form of loose scripts to be fitted to artwork. Yet, I found myself waiting for brief moments to myself, a few hours weekly when I could slide into the seat before the family computer and indulge in my secret craving.
I didn’t understand the need, but I felt it slowly take hold of me, and my life. It was my passion, my release, and I needed it to get by. Quickly, waiting for free time left me impatient. I’d pace the floor, waiting for everyone to turn their backs. I’d watch over my shoulder, making sure that no one realized what I was truly doing on the computer. “Writing a paper for class,” I planned to say if I was ever caught. And I wasn’t.
My habit continued on for years in secret. It was my shame. How many times I’d told myself that I was no writer. I had no skill for it. I wasn’t good enough, I told myself. But something defiant stirred within me. I couldn’t stop myself from putting my fingers to the keys and pouring my heart and soul into something I was sure that I would never share with anyone. It was garbage, trash…but oh, how I loved it.
Finally my secret reached the point when I decided the time had come to confess. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the weight of keeping my secret had become a burden I wasn’t willing to maintain. Secrets had started to slip.
I remember the reactions I’d gotten when I finally came clean and told those closest to me what I’d been doing, the shock and confusion on their faces. I’d hidden my habit well. Too well. No one saw it coming.
But despite my “coming out,” I still had further to go, because I’d decided, I didn’t want it to be a secret anymore. I didn’t want a guilty pleasure.
I’d taken a step back, looked at my life, my passion and my creation, and I saw something good. And if the world disagreed, I no longer cared. Everyone was entitled to their opinion, including me. My opinion of my work was just as important as everyone else’s and I wouldn’t put myself to shame any longer.
The hardest thing I’d ever done was let that first manuscript out of my grip and place it into the hands of another. I waited, my mind readying excuses and lame apologies for my lack of skill, against my will. Some habits are hard to break. But once the waiting was over, I had my first fan.
Too often in life, we measure our worth by what others might think of us. We make excuses for loving things that we expect others to be incapable of accepting. We have an innate need to determine what others are thinking of us, but very often we are wrong. Sometimes the world’s reactions to our dirty secrets are so surprising that we wonder why we had ever held back in the first place.
What we become is of our own making. Don’t base yourself off of how others see you. And don’t tether your dreams for fear of not measuring up. Never lose sight of what you hold dear. Whether it is a love to write, paint, build, teach, or create, do not let the opinions of others hold you back, because the world of opinion is vast, and while some may disapprove and aim to put you down, others might not. In the end, all that matters is how you feel about yourself and your creation. Your opinion is just as valid as everyone else’s.