anxiety · social anxiety

Sharing Anonymously

There is a certain solace in sharing my feelings, thoughts, and opinions anonymously. To a certain extent, I have a degree of comfortable semi-anonymity even on this blog because I get to choose what I share about myself and how I share it.

Yesterday I found myself participating in a social experiment about anonymity. I happened to see their stand display on the street by chance and got curious enough to stop to look. The premise of it, which is called The Strangers Project, is for people to write down on a blank piece of paper anything they want to share anonymously.

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There was a wide range of interesting confessions hanging up on the stand. Some were shocking (a woman admitting she regularly fantasizes about having sex with her therapist), daring (a man moved to Korea on a whim after having a “vision” about it yet didn’t know how to speak a lick of Korean), amusing (someone wrote an argument, accompanied by a cute drawing, about why it’s better to be a shark), heartbreaking (a person came out as transgendered, lost all his/her friends, had to change schools and developed a very serious binge eating and purging disorder), poetic (a girl recalls how onions always make her cry because they remind her of her deceased father), etc. I was fascinated reading these true stories and having the realization that whatever feelings or perceptions I got from the stories might not be the reactions other people there had from reading the same words on each paper.

That’s what made me pick up one of the clipboards that had a release form for me to sign (which gives the project permission to repost my story anonymously) and then write out my own story on another paper.

The featured image of this blog post is indeed a screenshot of my story that I submitted for The Strangers Project. I was most struck by how different each story was in terms of life experiences but that in a number of them, people freely admitted to being unhappy or depressed. I too felt the pull to be that honest on my own paper knowing that long after I submitted everything in, my words would be read by complete strangers. Perhaps some would feel bad for me, pity or sympathize with me, or even find my confession to be stupid or dumb. Who knows. I think I like the mystery of not knowing.

My thoughts and ideas felt jumbled up once I started writing, almost as if I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. I opted to write each sentence as whatever came into my mind, so I feel for some sentences I didn’t pause to go into enough detail about certain things. There was also the problem of running out of the room as I got to the bottom of the page. In the end, I wrapped things up by penning my nickname: Justanervousgirl. I suppose I added that because I felt the tug of wanting to be anonymous yet also not wanting to be completely faceless and without some kind of name.

I am, as of yet, undecided if I want to publish a larger thumbnail of what I wrote to allow people to read the entire thing. Of the words that are viewable on the featured image, yes, the majority of what I wrote on the paper was about anxiety and social anxiety.

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9 thoughts on “Sharing Anonymously

    1. Yes, postsecret! I’ve read some of their stuff before. Years ago I thought about submitting one but I couldn’t figure out what to write in only a sentence or two to fit the postcard.

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      1. I posted a secret on their website. It was back when I was still attempting to have relationships. My secret was, “When I have sex I pretend to be enjoying it but I’m actually disgusted and hate myself for doing it. It literally makes me sick.” Sorry to be graphic.

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      2. No need to be sorry for sharing your secret with me. I’ve not had the experience of being physically intimate with anyone yet so I don’t know what it feels like. But sometimes I feel icky thinking about how people might exchange body fluids during it and getting sweaty on each other. On a more technical level I guess I can see why people enjoy sex? Humans are sexual beings that have sex for other reasons besides procreation. But I’m the type that is not fully comfortable seeing myself in that light. I mean, the “talk” my mom gave me was essentially her helping me with my sex ed homework during junior high school. I got nothing from my parents besides that. I’m 27 now and my dad seems to always think any guy friend I hang out with is a potential boyfriend. It’s quite annoying for him to jump to conclusions all the time. I’m not even looking to get in a relationship.

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      3. Not everyone is relationship bound. Sadly most people think everyone has to “couple up”. I’ve been alone for quite a few years and am fine with that, utterly. I get “intimacy” or what have you, from close friends through good conversation and such. I don’t feel any loss whatsoever. There is a brilliant YouTube video about the choice to not have kids. I’ll look for it when I’m back home on my computer.

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      4. My experiences (or lack of them lol) shape my aversion towards affection of any kind, physical or emotional. I feel a bit frightened even during the few times I’ve hugged friends or family even if I know they aren’t going to hurt me. This is totally random and fangirlish of me to mention, but some actors from a show I watch are going to be at a convention in Chicago and I got to see some photos people posted online of their photo ops with the actors. I actually got nervous seeing fans and select actors standing so close to each other. Like posing with their arm over the fan’s shoulder. I thought to myself, I could never be comfortable allowing a stranger to do that, even if that harmless gesture was coming from an actor I genuinely like.

        While the idea of a fulfilling emotional and physical intimacy with a significant other sounds like a dream come true and I do long for a person like that on some level, I hardly think things will be perfect if I ever do meet someone I would want that sort of relationship with.

        Ah, children. 😐 I have a hard time enough taking care of myself lol so I do not think I ever want kids. I’ve had the experience of caring for pets and having enough heartache, stress/anxiety, and frustration from having them. Pets are almost like children in a sense because they require so much attention and their needs depend on what the individual animal needs. I feel I’ve failed in the pet department so I am never getting another one again. Since I had to surrender my parrot to a rehab home for birds, I was relieved to find out a month ago that he was adopted. I know he’s in good hands bc the rehab home will check up on him to ensure he is doing well in his new home. Now I only have goldfish and sometimes I am thankful they’re not the type of animals that need me to play with them all day. The most I have to do is feed them every few days and do regular weekly tank cleanings to get rid of water waste.

        Of course I feel bad that I’ll never have children. Coming from a culture where marriage and building a family is still highly revered and part of tradition, I do feel guilty I will never give my parents a grandkid to look after or play with. My brother has a girlfriend, but I hate that there’s almost this unspoken expectation that he’ll one day have children of his own. Either of my parents occasionally throw out some comment at each other like, “you can give/tell that to your grandkid one day.” Even worse is this one time an aunt of my mom‘s flat out asked my brother when he was going to invite her to his wedding. I was standing there thinking, “He is not even remotely thinking about getting married anytime soon and you’re going to pressure him?” Ugh…

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      5. I used to feel that guilt too. Neither I nor my brother had children and interestingly neither of us are interested in anything more than friends. My father had to adjust to his lineage, so to speak, ending. We’ve never talked about it but I remember years ago him hinting about it. It is what it is. There are many of us. I consider myself asexual. There are many people like me that do find companions to live with, some even getting married, but without all that intimate stuff. It’s not for me though. I hope you do meet someone that works for what you find comfortable. I’ve no doubt there is someone out there.

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      6. The end of a lineage sounds like a sad thing, but so is having kids just to fulfill a cultural “duty” when it’s not what you truly want in life. My own father has told me before that when he was younger, he didn’t want kids and I took this to mean that it wasn’t in his plans to pursue that kind of life. And he admitted to me once that he wanted to leave his marriage when my brother and I were still very young because he felt things were just not working out with my mom anymore and that the only reason he didn’t get a divorce is because he feared my brother and I would grow up without a father.

        I can see it now sometimes too that although my parents argue less, I get the sense it’s more of a marriage of convenience on my dad’s part and that on some level he’s made peace with staying because of how used to this life. I can only imagine the complications of what might’ve happened if my parents did divorce, such as how to divide up the assets and money and who would keep the house. Seeing the sacrifices my own father has made for me at the cost of his own happiness, I would never wish to put myself or my would-be child in that position. I do feel, yes, had there been no children from this marriage, my dad would have likely gotten a divorce because there would be no children also being impacted by the weight of change that comes from their parents separating.

        Yes, there’s so much on the spectrum of how people identify themselves on the scale of human sexuality. Had I been born some decades earlier, I probably would have been pushed into a marriage arranged by my father. My father’s father did that with his own son and picked his future bride for him without either party even being in the same room first so it’s not too far off in the past that stuff like this happened.

        I do have a more western perspective on marriage since that’s what I grew up with, though some of the practical ideals people do in western marriages are kind of a turn off for me. I know it’s silly but the idea of sharing actual bed space throughout the night doesn’t sound too great. Being in a romantic relationship too seems like a hassle since I’m the kind of person who prefers mostly being alone and hates the idea of having to constantly look good for a significant other. Probably the most tricky would be making compromises in a relationship as well. I’m the worst, in that I can be quite terrible at effectively communicating what’s on my mind and actually talking to someone about what I’m feeling, so I would likely spend the whole relationship expecting the person to read my mind lol.

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      7. Yeah, I can relate to a ton of that. Romance does seem like such a hassle and compromise? I think not, lol. I’ve lived alone too long. Now that I’m getting older it has been a bit more difficult (to my surprise) emotionally but hopefully once I’ve moved through recovery long enough, those acute feelings of alone-ness will once again disappear.

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