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ShowMeWhatchaGot#honestychallenge

Caitlin V McDowell
Caitlin V McDowell Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart.
2mo Rogers, AR, United States Story
Show Me Whatcha Got #honestychallenge

I realized something recently: It’s absurd how much we keep from one another.

We walk around with these burdens, these secrets that we’ve categorized as shameful and embarrassing. We keep them inside when in reality, so many others, often those closer to us than we realize, are carrying the same exact baggage. Can we quit that?

I mean, I know it’s much easier said than done, but when you zoom out of this whole life thing, when we get to the other side or the end, whatever it is you believe…are you really going to pat yourself on the back for hiding or holding in that secret that kept you from being yourself? Hell, or for hiding yourself completely? Like we are going to get to where we are going and you're going to be like, "whew, close call *wipes sweat off forehead* they almost found out I was crazy, painted in secret, was gay, wanted to be a dancer, or wanted to tell someone I loved them." No, unpack that baggage here. You either came here with it or you picked it up while you were here. Leave it here. It was meant for here. Maybe it's not even shameful or dark, maybe you're just hiding yourself because you're scared it won't be accepted. Maybe its something about your body, a hobby that you want to take up, or an interest that you often think about. Nothing, not one thing about you, is an accident or mistake. Please don't keep a thing about you from the world. We need it so bad.

Accept yourself and the world will follow suit.

Think about this for a moment, what has happened to you, the way that you were made, that's who you are. That's a divinely given gift. I'm not trying to sugarcoat this thing, I'm trying to tell you that you are harboring divinity within you. Let it out! It's dying to breath! 

Why do we care so much about what others think—our neighbor, small groups at church, golfing buddies, coworkers, friends, even family? When did it become a rule that we need to appear so perfect? We all know we aren’t perfect, but here we are, so ashamed of the things that make us human. You were placed here to be human, you are godliness wrapped in human skin. Wear that beautiful skin like your life depends on it, because guess what? It does, and this world depends on it too. 

I believe every thing that comes into our lives does so for a reason, a very good reason…but we hide these opportunities for vulnerability, growth, connection, and a better life in a closet like a bunch of dusty skeletons. These aren't skeletons! They’re plants that need to be fed, watered, and placed in sunlight. 


Recently, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and simultaneously came to terms with, well, with myself. That's just the thing, I'm not coming to terms with an illness, a life style change, a new chapter, I am coming to terms with myself and the story I have been given. You see the difference there?

In my group therapy sessions, support groups, and even the internet, I have been met with nothing but overwhelming support, kindness, and acceptance. However, sitting in these groups and spaces I can’t help but think of how absurd it is that these groups are so anonymous and confidential.

Now, I understand the fact that this is a matter of respecting peoples’ privacy. But why are we so scared to let people see or be aware of what makes us human? What makes us, us?


We have dozens of anonymous groups, unlabeled psychiatric facilities, and unspoken prayers because heaven forbid someone finds out we’re trying to make better lives for ourselves.

These sorts of things should be celebrated!

Maybe I truly am just crazy, but I am proud to say I go to therapy and that I recognize that I need help and support. These are things that make me who I am and from my experience, every time I bring these “dark secrets and struggles” to light, I am almost always met with mutual vulnerability and acceptance.

Through my journey over the past couple of months, I cannot tell you how many times I have, potentially at inopportune or inappropriate times, shared my struggle to a friend old or new and have been met with a “you know, I am so glad you said that I actually…(fill in the blank with some “secret”) followed by, I have actually never shared that with anyone.”

I hate that. This thing is hard, we need each other! 

I cant stand that we live in a world where people feel like they can’t be themselves or that they have to keep a festering struggle inside because they are scared of what others might think.

Life is too damn short for that.

So can we change this? Will you help me on this crusade? Can we unearth these pieces of ourselves, maybe start a chain reaction that brightens this world one truth at a time?

It starts by accepting the things that we have been given in this life and leveraging them into something beautiful because it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen. I've experienced it first hand.

This world needs more courage and more honesty.

No matter what we’re struggling with or questioning—faith, sexuality, sense of self, sanity, career path, relationships—can we accept it? Accept it as truth, not good or bad, but somewhere to begin? Can we accept our realities and let it be a beautiful part of who we are? Please accept this challenge. Don't take these gifts to your grave or even to another day. 


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2 comments

  • Danica
    2mo ago

    I have a friend with bi-polar disorder. What should I know to help her cope?

    I have a friend with bi-polar disorder. What should I know to help her cope?

  • paola32
    2mo ago

    Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing your story. As someone recently diagnosed with bipolar (and PTSD), I resonate a lot with your message. 


    It took someone telling me I was bipolar to see it in my life. I wasn't being honest with myself about what I was feeling. I, too, have decided to be honest and share my journey with others. 

    Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing your story. As someone recently diagnosed with bipolar (and PTSD), I resonate a lot with your message. 


    It took someone telling me I was bipolar to see it in my life. I wasn't being honest with myself about what I was feeling. I, too, have decided to be honest and share my journey with others. 


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Caitlin V McDowell
Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart.

26. Corporate suit by day and writer by night. Lover of the stars, moon, the velveteen rabbits, vans, leather goods, and thinking.

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