“Do you want to hear my theory of secrets?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“My theory is that identity consists of two contradictory imperatives.”
“There’s the imperative to keep secrets, and the imperative to have them known. How do you know that you’re a person, distinct from other people? By keeping certain things to yourself. You guard them inside you, because, if you don’t, there’s no distinction between inside and outside. Secrets are the way you know you even have an inside. A radical exhibitionist is a person who has forfeited his identity. But identity in a vacuum is also meaningless. Sooner or later, the inside of you needs a witness. Otherwise you’re just a cow, a cat, a stone, a thing in the world, trapped in your thingness. To have an identity, you have to believe that other identities equally exist. You need closeness with other people. And how is closeness built? By sharing secrets. Colleen knows what you secretly think of Willow. You know what Colleen secretly thinks of Flor. Your identity exists at the intersection of these lines of trust.
I don't know about the last part, but I believe there is considerable truth in the notion of contradictory imperatives, and that both imperatives play roles in one's sense of identity. One further implication is that a sense of identity entails psychic tension and some degree of instability.