My Secret Self
by Helen Bryant
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To look at how we have a secret self and reflect on how important our secrets can be.
Preparation and materials
- None required, but if you can find a few willing volunteers (both members of staff and students) who are happy to share something that they do outside of school or a secret passion, it would improve the assembly. Also, think of a secret you can share, one that you are happy about those in the school knowing!
- Choose a piece of quiet, reflective music and have the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- How many of you have a secret?
Maybe there’s something that you do just for yourself and no one else. It might be that you are a bell-ringer in your spare time. It might be that you spend some time volunteering at a local charity shop. It might be that you still sleep with a teddy or have a special blanket that you can't go to bed without. It might be that the books on your bookshelf at home are in alphabetical order or all your clothes are colour coordinated in your wardrobe.
Now share something of your own, then call on your volunteers to speak about their hobbies, activities and so on, if this has been arranged.
- These things are all glimpses of some of the secret self we all keep hidden, laid bare for you today. Isn't that good? Can we have a round of applause for these brave souls?
- Think now, about your secret self. Why might you choose to keep something about yourself so private and secret?
- It is probably because, most of the time, we do that hobby or activity just for ourselves. It is something that we do to make ourselves feel good, give us a boost and help us be more ‘ourselves’. The reason we don't tell anyone is because, some of the time, it is not seen as something that’s ‘cool’. For example, I know a man who likes to draw railway lines to his own designs on maps and redesign the country’s railway network. I also know, that he likes to keep that activity quite secret from people he sees on a daily basis for fear of being seen as a geek.
- So, why do we keep these things secret, even if they are such important parts of ourselves? Possibly it’s because, if we keep them quiet, only those who know us really well will be aware that we do them. These might include our parents, possibly our siblings and, later on in life, our partners.
We have different levels when it comes to how much we tell people – different barriers that we let down or put up depending. If you discover that someone has the same interest, then you'll be happy to open up and share your passion with them, but if you fear you may be judged or, worse, bullied or made fun of for it, then you’ll be more likely to keep it quiet and hidden. Who wants to talk about something they really love and enjoy doing, only for it to be ridiculed by others who either don't understand or who have no awareness that it might be important to them?
- By finding out about these things that people do ‘in their other lives’, however, we can actually get to know them a little bit more, learn about what makes them tick. It may also help us to understand why maybe someone is the way that they are or why they don't come to the park every weekend – they may have religious commitments or they won't come out in the evening because maybe they're responsible one night or more a week for putting their younger sibling to bed because their mum or dad can't.
It is important to not make assumptions, feel that they don’t like us or assume they are hiding themselves away deliberately. It is also important to respect the fact that, for them, this element of their secret self may be something they prefer to keep to themselves.
Time for reflection
Think about some aspect of yourself – maybe something you do or something you believe that you keep secret . . .
Why is it important to you?
Now think, have you ever been tempted to expose someone’s secret, perhaps on social media . . .
How would you feel if someone did that to you?
Let’s now spend a few moments in quiet, being grateful for our ‘secret selves’.
Chosen piece of quiet, reflective music