I used to be so fearful. When I worked in a dungeon I could barely go outside sometimes for fear that someone had seen my photos online. I imagined that everyone was judging me and so I clung to my "other" life at the time, the socially acceptable one, the "student".
For years I felt this shame and fear of exposure. I kept the sides carefully segregated- no one in my vanilla life knew what I did because I feared rejection. Really, it was my own self-rejection I was afraid of. I think we can all understand the impulse to overcompensate when there's something that we don't like about ourselves, or want to hide.
And one day, I stopped caring when I realized that the structures that I was taught (i.e. don't tell anyone your real name) were rooted in fear. No one shared anything personal about themselves purely because they were afraid. Many of these people hoped to one day abandon their "shadow work" and go into the vanilla world, so I understand this fear of disclosure. I had thought that the only way to be acceptable would one day leave this behind and call it a phase. I was in denial that this was a true part of me.
It wasn't until I decided to drop the fear to be myself did I start meeting people who were like me, who had stuck with this profession for the long haul out of love. They had normal, wonderful, open lives. And I saw my scope expand. I could be myself, without sacrifice, and by putting myself honestly, and openly, out there, I would attract just the right people who would encourage me along my path. Otherwise, by living a lie, I would do nothing except attract dishonesty, or people who would have a problem with who I was inside.
Of course I still struggled. I kept both sides of me down in order to not expose one another, in case it would upset someone. And in the end, I feel the fear slowly slipping away even more. Without knowing how much fear I had within me, it's something I can only identify in retrospect. There's so much change happening on an unconscious level once we set out to change that's gradual, but the days add up and we will never be where we once were even if we go two steps forward and one step back.
Now I'm ready to be public. I don't care if my identities blur. This is me, and it's alright if the world knows who I am. And you will see just how much potential for liberation is in you, too.