A few weeks ago, we revealed the cover for my next children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which will come out on June 4th. The story is about our universal dream to feel seen and welcomed. As revealed in the author’s note at the end, it is based on my own difficult move in the middle of a school year from Boston to Pennsylvania.

The cover reveal was assisted by John Schu, who is a well-known librarian and best-selling author. John was kind enough to share my book with his followers, even as he was about to publish his own book, Louder than Hunger.  In that moving and important book, he reveals a story based on his own life and experience with anorexia.

Like many words, reveal has many meanings. In this instance, two definitions – “to make something, hidden or previously secret, publicly or generally known” and “to open to view” – apply.

When we reveal something we do so in the hopes that others will find it of value. The act of revealing or sharing something hidden about yourself can be wrought and painful. There is a reason it has been hidden.  I suppose this is why we often mask our revelations behind fictional characters – regardless of the age of its intended audience.

When we reveal something about ourselves, it also provides the opportunity for others to follow suit, to see themselves in the story of another and as a result feel more free to reveal their own experiences.

Take this example from a recent episode of American Idol. A performer opts to choose the song “How Could You”  – that she says “was like I had written it myself” – to reveal her own experience in an abusive relationship. The performance is courageous and gut-wrenching. I wept as I watched it with my family, trying to shield myself from the thoughts of my daughters ever experiencing something similar. Her act of bravery undoubtedly moved millions who watched it, as evidenced by the many tears of those in the live audience. Her reveal and desire to share something hidden was a profound act of generosity.

To reveal something is to embrace a certain degree of our own innate vulnerability. It is a risk to put anything out into the world, let alone something so personal and painful. The fear of rejection is steeped in our own shame, embarrassment, and confusion. Yet the reward of doing so is undeniable. It is both cathartic and freeing for ourselves and hopefully connects us with others who share our experiences,

America’s Dreaming opens with the question: “Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?”  The hope of this book and other acts of revelation is that we feel less alone.

Of course not all reveals need to be public. They can be the simple, yet equally difficult act, of revealing something of ourselves in private to a loved one. This act of courage brings us closer to those we most care about.

In ways big or small, thank you to all the brave souls who chose to reveal a part of themselves that helps the rest of us feel seen.

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