Being open can be difficult and complicated, and can range from having to face a very deep, personal change for oneself, to navigating the reactions friends, family, and peers may have. Follow these tips to increase the likelihood that opening up to your loved ones will go smoothly, or consult the Openly Secular Toolkits to see what would best fit your situation!
Work to understand what could happen if things go wrong. Can you financially support yourself? Will you be safe? Do you have another space where you can stay? As regrettable as actions of intolerance are, you may need to be prepared to pack up and start from scratch. There is no shame in waiting to open up until you are able to take care of yourself, especially if If your employment or living situation could be in jeopardy. Check out resources and create contingency plans that might be able to help you when the time is right.
Ideally, everyone! However, some people will be easier to talk to than others. List everyone you know and think about who may be the most supportive, and would protect your identity if there are more delicate situations that might be impacted if the news was brought up by anyone but you. This is an especially important consideration if you have never been open before.
Being Openly Secular can be intimidating to believers, and may feel like a failure to save your soul on their part, or a threat to their own beliefs. It’s important not to feed into those fears by stirring up theological debate, which is easier said than done. Eventually you may feel inclined to address concerns people have about your beliefs, but initially it will be more successful to “work the human angle.” No matter who you are being open to, remind them that you are the same person that they knew yesterday. Recall secular events the two of you shared, and remark on how it was a positive experience even though it was completely devoid of religion. Point out how many shared beliefs you still have, and stress that you believe in them for the betterment of yourself and others.
Something that’s important to keep in mind is that even if their reaction is positive, it might still be a shock. It may be beneficial to decide beforehand how much you want to say at that juncture, and once you have said your piece, to give them the space to process your change in worldview. Let them know that you can discuss particulars (such as issues of morality and origins) at some later time. This was your time to open up; invite them to partake in this new chapter of your life, and stress that you earnestly do not want this to become a wedge in your relationship.
If being open was a part of the Tell One Person pledge, make sure to fill out your follow up questionnaire so we can see how it went! Your feedback will help us determine how successful some methods of being open are, and may help others who cannot yet be open themselves.