I’m an oversharer; but this wasn’t always the case.
In high school and college I kept everything to myself. I reveled in my own secret world. But over the last decade, as I’ve immersed myself into more loving, spiritually-minded circles, I’ve become increasingly more verbose.
In America, we now live in a confessional culture. Decades of Oprah’s reign as talk show queen created a much needed space for psychological self-evaluation. Memoirs became more and more popular. Writers (and personal heroes) like Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed furthered this trend. We laud those willing to put themselves out there.
It’s a radical shift from the more puritan, emotionally stoic American ethos of the past. One that has grown, in part, from the democratization of media and the rise of social media platforms. More and more, we’re sharing our experiences — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Sharing your story is, simply put, cathartic. It liberates us from shame and timidity and insecurity. Moreover, it invites others in. It offers those who are struggling an opportunity to see themselves and know they are not alone in their struggles.
What we crave more than anything is belonging, and the more we see ourselves in others, the more accepting of ourselves we become. When I had my weekly column in The Fullest’s previous incarnation Poppy + Seed, I experienced this firsthand. The more vulnerable I became, the more emails I received. It created a dialogue. It’s what motivated me to write each week.
But that’s all on the world’s stage. The purposefulness found in the public sphere may not translate directly to the private one. Writing one’s story is strikingly different than the more impulsive revelations that arise in daily conversation. Yet, I’m curious if the former has perhaps led to the latter?
The more open we become as a culture, the more open we become as individuals, right? What was once terrifying and outlandish has now become commonplace. Still, as scary as it can be to share ourselves intimately in public, it’s in the private sphere that we are truly revealed.
In the public eye, we edit. Not always, but often. We rehearse and ponder what we share. We’re crafting a persona, even if it’s of the more revealing type. There’s a wall of sorts.
In the private sphere, we can do the same, holding ourselves back out of a fear of being truly seen — but repercussions are more striking. There’s a higher propensity for loneliness, which is why so many (including myself) look to authors and artists and public figures to feel less alone.
And then sometimes, we go the other way.
These days I tell my partner everything. In fact, I tell all those close to me everything. I am very fortunate that they receive my narration and rants without judgment. There’s an intimacy that’s fostered as a result. Yet, sometimes I wonder if they really need to know all the varying thoughts that circle my head? Sometimes I share as an effort to be seen, though I’m not sure of the efficacy of my divulgence.
In a sense, to tell everything is the same as to tell nothing.
I’m not questioning this because I would rather appear mysterious. Or because I believe we should crawl back into the shadows. I’m questioning it because I wonder if it isn’t healthier to keep some things to myself, to allow the space between to speak? Mostly, I wonder this because I know our emotions and our reflections are not static. They shift and change and morph. Feelings, as the saying goes, may make lousy leaders, but they’re excellent teachers.
In other words, sometimes space and time and the willingness to allow ourselves their gifts is all we really need. Sometimes intimacy with ourselves is what we crave most of all.
As powerful and necessary as all of the sharing can seem, it risks becoming noise — just another distraction that pulls us from ourselves and the moment.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be spontaneous and present. Or that we should backpedal as a culture. Far from it. It’s not about silencing ourselves, it’s about recognizing that we can still maintain closeness and a depth of connection without needing to confess it all.
And that connection with ourselves is the foundation of true connection with another.
Danielle Beinstein is a Psychological Astrologer based in Los Angeles.