We all have that one deep, dark secret that we are either ashamed of or embarrassed to tell even the closest of friends.
So why is it that over half a million people feel comfortable telling their personal confessions to a total stranger?
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On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Frank Warren, Post Secret’s creator and the acclaimed “most trusted stranger in America,” spoke to an eager crowd in the Mabel Brown Room, which was hosted by the student center and junior class of 2013.
He explained how the idea originated, secrets that were banned from the books by the publisher, and then allowed audience members to stand up in the aisles and share their uncensored secrets.
Warren told the story of the project’s beginning.
It all began in Nov. 2004, when he had a crazy idea where he printed out 3,000 postcards with his home address and simple instructions that invited the recipient to join in on an anonymous group art project where they could write down any regrets, fears, desires, or confidential thoughts as long as they were true and never shared before with anyone on the blank side.
Warren handed them out in the streets of Washington D.C. and within a few weeks he began to receive mail to the address 13345 Copper Ridge Rd. Germantown, MD.
Suddenly his scheme didn’t seem so insane as postcards from all over the world trickled in.
Shortly after, it went viral on the Internet and exploded before his very eyes.
He had tapped into something unexplainable.
After seven years and five books, the piles of postcards continued to grow higher.
Warren then showed multiple postcards that were too controversial and others that had the spectators laughing.
He also told a story of a woman who emailed him.
The email was about her efforts to send a postcard with her secret.
She went out, bought a postcard, decorated it, wrote down the words, and just stared at it.
When she saw her secret written down on the paper she felt horrible.
She then ripped it in half and in that moment said she would no longer be the person who carries their secret around with them.
Warren explained how much he loved that story and said, “Sometimes we think we are keeping a secret, but that secret can actually be keeping us, it can be undermining relationships with other people, it can be blocking us from being who we truly are, all in ways we don’t even recognize until we can face that part that we are hiding from.”
During the presentation, Warren stressed the concept of suicide awareness and the importance of humans seeking help if they need it.
He talked about the stigma and painted a picture of how serious the suicide problem is.
Sophomore Mackenzie Heinze said, “He focused so heavily on suicide prevention. It’s good that Post Secret is more than just telling secrets and has a purpose. It allows people to know that there are millions of people like them, and they’re never alone.”
The most touching part of the event that had audience members in tears was when Keene State College students were given the opportunity to reveal their personal secrets.
At first it was only one or two who stood up to speak, but as others saw how genuine and sincere they were being, it influenced and inspired many more to line up to unleash their emotions.
Some were silly, but others consisted of serious topics dealing with stealing, cutting, and even rape.
Freshman Stephanie Kern had the courage to go up to one of the microphones and get something off her chest.
After the experience Kern said, “I was shaking, I’ve never really told such a secret before, besides to my best friend, so coming and telling a secret to the whole crowd was nerve-racking, but I feel a lot better now.”
Senior Sarah Berry commented on the importance of a project like this saying, “It encourages people to not bottle things up and to talk about what’s going on in their lives.”
The reality is that we all have untold stories.
Whether it’s peeing in the shower, cheating on a major exam, or discussing growing up in an abusive family.
It’s not healthy to hold on to something so much that it ultimately holds you back from being the best person you can be.
Thankfully, Post Secret helped hundreds of thousands of people to let go of the past and start a new future.
The truth is we never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so be kind to every soul you meet, as even a simple smile could save a life.
Kateland Dittig can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org