How much should we reveal? How much of ourselves should we show to the world when there is such a thin line between acceptance and rejection? How much of what we think or feel can we say and still be accepted? This conflict between the reality of one’s inner life and the expression of it into the outside world is a source of constant unrest. “To make the private public is an act of courage,” said American artist and writer David Wojnarowicz. He, too, was afraid that exposing the truth about himself might have a negative impact in the way his work would be received.
The need for hiding or revealing personal truths and feelings is not reserved for artists and writers only. There are everyday situations, for everyday people, when we need to think twice or ten times before an action – verbal or otherwise. Whether it’s about work, family, friends, or lovers, the question remains the same: how much should we reveal? How much of ourselves are we allowed to show and to what extent is this beneficial for us?
I will remember 2018 as the year of crushes. I know at least half a dozen friends who have experienced a crush this year, each story more beautiful and heart-wrenching than the other. The enthusiasm, the heart that starts beating again, the obsessive checking of the phone, the sleepless nights, the desire, the imagination running wild, the over-interpretation of the smallest of gesture, the despair, the search for meaning where meaning does not seem to exist, the unbearable need for expression. Without warning, we have these emotions and physical torments and we don’t know what to do with them. How much should we reveal? Our whole existence depends on whether our crush – a total stranger until recently – responds to our infatuation for them or not. We die to express our feelings for them, but we don’t know how and we don’t know if this is the right thing to do, especially when it becomes obvious that our crush does not have a crush on us, too. Once the machine is put in motion, however, it is impossible to stop. We’ll just be hopelessly and secretly adrift for a while. We have our friends or journals to tell all the details, the crush does not even need to know.
Because: Would they reciprocate? Would they understand? Would they at least be flattered? Or would they rather condescend, or worse, remain silent? Ah, the mystery and coolness of the person at the other end of the feeling. Should we even bother with these questions in the case of an impossible crush, when revealing makes no sense at all? And it has nothing to do with becoming vulnerable or making a fool of ourselves – some of us do not even care about this so much. It is just about sparing the world of one more nonsense.
“The last radical gesture for freedom is the imagination,” said same David Wojnarowicz. Imagination is indeed such a relief. In our mind, we can think the impossible. In our heart, we can feel the impossible, too. There might be silence at the other end of the feeling, but getting a reaction should not be the purpose. The purpose is to feel. And how much should we reveal? As much as we want, of course. It is up for us to decide if a positive reaction from others is more vital than personal expression. I believe there is grace in telling the truth. I believe there is grace in defeat.