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Secrets are the only truly immortal beings in the universe. They are certainly the cleverest and most irritating things on the planet, even more so than younger siblings, who can be pretty sneaky and cheeky themselves. Secrets are responsible for a good chunk of the unpleasantness that goes on these days, largely due to their virus-like system of spreading, and, unfortunately, multiplying. All this represents a major problem, because when a secret wanders into your life – or, in some cases, explodes into your life, demolishing the fragile pillars of sanity you’ve constructed and making it all collapse on top of you -- you will find yourself in quite a fix as to how to get rid of it.
The first major problem you will encounter is that of size. On the not-so-rare occasions that we see a secret coming, we tend to underestimate it. This is not our fault – how could we know that harmless banter at a simple party could lead to such a confession as that? The explanation for this is simple; once you are let in on a secret, it instantly becomes a hundred times larger than it was in speculation, and, as a result, takes up considerably more room in your head and your heart than you had bargained for.
This leads us straight to the second and altogether more pressing obstacle. It is a question we all know well: to tell, or not to tell? Your immediate reaction will be not to tell; no, you will keep it under wraps for a week or so, giving the intended recipient – or better, the actual subject of the secret – knowing glances at the water cooler and other public places in which it is impossible for them to question you on what exactly you’re so cheerful about. You’ll bask in that feeling for a little while, the knowledge that you know something they don’t know, and you will inevitably settle into a state of pleased superiority. Then – and this is where it all falls down – it stops being fun.
At this point, you will start to feel the true effects of keeping a secret. Underneath that wonderful buzz you got from being ‘in the loop’, you will start to notice a feeling in your gut, like something eating away at you. In fact, the true problem is in your head; that sensation is the feeling of the secret having your common sense as a snack. At this juncture, it is vitally important that you follow one simple rule, and that is this: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BELIEVE ANY OF THE THOUGHTS THAT YOU MAY FIND WANDERING THROUGH YOUR HEAD. They are more often than not dangerous and lacking in sense, and are usually of the sort that you might generate while at a party. They will naturally cause a good deal of internal struggle; having arguments with yourself is a common symptom at this stage, and this is perfectly natural and healthy – so long as you don’t lose.
That last part is the part that trips most people up.
Your mind will suggest, very simply, that you tell someone.
You will refuse, sensibly. This, I am sad to inform you, will be the last sensible thing you do in the course of the exchange.
Your mind will try to reason with you. It will insist that the secret is just a small one, and that it cannot possibly hurt to tell someone.
You will refuse, but secretly, you are listening.
Your mind will point out that (insert name of person you are intending to tell here) is one of your closest friends, that he, she, or it has never let you down before, and that they wouldn’t ever tell anyone.
You will say nothing. You are clearly losing at this point.
Your mind will now mention the incontestable fact that your future confidant will be delighted to be let in on the secret, and that you are somehow doing them a great disservice by excluding them from this.
At this juncture, you will begin to agree with yourself, narcissistic as it may seem.
Your mind will complete the argument with an assurance that you will feel completely and suddenly better once the disclosure is done, and, for good measure, it will conjure up that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see a puppy.
This, unfortunately, is the final straw. You are through. If you have reached this point, you have gone too far. You are, sadly, a lost cause.
When you first tell the person, you will get one of two responses based on the nature of the person you are confiding in. The average friend will appear delighted, but DO NOT BE DECIEVED. In a week or two, once the pleased superiority stage is over, they will be thoroughly fed up with you. On the other hand, the more clear-minded thinker will react with a mild annoyance that you have spoiled something for them, be offended that you would spread such rumors, or just take the high road and ignore you completely. Either way, you will, contrary to your mind’s assurance otherwise, reach a point at which you will regret what you have done, because, even though the secret is over for you, you have unwittingly subjected one of your comrades to the same dilemma you yourself have just, in your own way, resolved.
If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry; there will be many opportunities to perfect your strategy for dealing with your own devious mind, as secrets are in no short supply these days. Do not feel alone, either; you can be sure that most people in the world are constantly involved in this cycle of lather, rinse, repeat. The key to avoiding secrets is to refrain from creating any; at the very least, do everyone a favor and recycle your gossip.