One of my new acquaintances revealed some serious personal information to me within less than a week after we first met. I was also told that he was arrested and is now performing court-ordered public service related work. This is a serious case of TMI, too much information. I asked him why he felt he needed to tell me about his felonious transgressions. The young man said I looked like a person he could trust.
I’ve been giving plenty of thought to why this person may have actually decided to confess his crimes to me, especially being so very early after we became acquainted.
Was he being proactive and trying to prime me for any gossip that might be circulating about him? Was he setting me up for some sort of confidence ploy? Does he simply have very poor personal boundaries? Regardless of the reasoning, his early confession seems quite inappropriate. The confession puts me in a very uneasy state of mind. It has me feeling awkward around him.
This is not the first case of a person confessing serious shortcomings and failings to me and it probably won’t be the last. There are plenty of people who share information about themselves that they wouldn’t share with their mom or their priest.
We all probably know somebody who overshares the state of her health and medical problems with everybody she meets. These early confessions can color the relationship negatively, early on. You wonder if she is looking for sympathy, playing the victim card, or simply doesn’t understand appropriate personal boundaries. In any case, this places the hearer in an uncomfortable state of mind.
Last winter, I met a man who began telling me about his dysfunctional family and how his home life is a complete disaster. This confession happened right after he gave me his name. Every time I encounter him in public he “updates” me about the horrible state of his domestic life. Some of my other friends say they have the same experiences with that person’s habit of oversharing his personal secrets. All of us have recommended that he speak with a professional counselor. I don’t think he has done that.
It seems to be a trend that millennials and younger generations confess too much personal information, too soon. They tell casual acquaintances and coworkers a lot about their personal relationship and financial problems. Revelations about their significant others and financial indebtedness are unwelcome to most people but are welcome to listeners who love to spread gossip.
I am not a Roman Catholic, so the practice of religious confession is foreign to me. I do know many people who belong to the Church. They say that confession to the priest is important to them. They affirm that they do bad things and that it’s healthy to seek forgiveness. The act of confession leads to forgiveness.
More than one of my Catholic friends has confessed to me about having made up stories to tell the priest during confession just to get through the required regular confession. They do this because they didn’t do anything wrong. I wonder if they have ever confessed to the priest about fabricating stories to tell him. I also wonder how many believers also embellish the truth during confession.
I suppose some sort of confession is a necessary part of living a healthy life. If a person is suffering from a guilty conscience, he feels a need to confess his mistakes. The confessor needs to practice wisdom in knowing to whom, how much to reveal, and when to make his confessions.