Have you ever wished that you could just talk to someone and know you're not being judged and that nothing you say can be used against you? Without the price tag of a therapist and the restriction of a religious confession, many of us don't have somewhere to turn to when we need to unload.
A few weeks ago, I stepped into a phone booth and sat down. I took a deep breath and looked at the rotary phone sitting in its cradle in front of me. It was the only thing that stood between me and peace of mind.
I'd been sent in with one simple instruction: speak. It didn't matter what I said. I knew I wouldn't be judged for the secrets I was leaving behind.
When I picked up the receiver, I didn't know what I was going to say. I had a few ideas rattling around in my brain but I was trying to go in with no expectations, not knowing what I was going to say and what burdens I was finally going to get off of my chest.
When I picked up the phone, a warm soothing voice welcomed me and told me what was about to happen. At the end of the message, there was a beep and then, just like leaving a voicemail, it was my turn to speak. The phone rested comfortably in my hand while I gathered my nerves and the words started to flow.
To be honest, I don't remember what I said. I just know that when I stepped out of the booth, I walked into the arms of a woman I'd met 45 minutes before, offering me a hug, a gesture of solidarity for what I'd just experienced. I also know that I felt lighter. None of my problems had been solved but, by not being the only person carrying the weight of my past, I was able to leave some of my personal baggage on the bench of that booth and walk away a different person.
This project is called ShameBooth. It's a San Francisco-based interactive art experience started by Paula Williams, a mom and San Francisco local that's sick of letting shame and fear hold us back. She and her group of "Shame Dames" travel with the booth throughout the country.
It's easy to participate, even if you're nowhere near the booth. You can call 415-890-4802 from wherever you are, anytime of day or night, and leave a recording.
So what are you waiting for? Call. And stop letting your fear and shame and guilt hold you back from being the best version of yourself.