Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Secrets Secrets Are So Fun

When I was in college, I ran away for a summer.  Well, I didn't technically run away, but I did escape to the muggy, tornado-stricken climes of Omaha, Nebraska to share a tiny bedroom with my best friend in her on-campus apartment.  It was quite the adventure.  However, this post is not about me, nor the first tornado I ever had to sit through in a real live basement, nor any of my other tall tales from Omaha.  It is about a book I discovered while living with my girlfriend that summer that changed my life: 

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren

If you haven't heard of the world of PostSecret, I think you will find it fascinating!  People anonymously send their secrets on the backs of postcards to Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret.  The criteria for sending a secret are simple: it must be true and you can never have told it to another human being.  Frank (as the public usually refers to Mr. Warren) calls it "an ongoing community art project," and posts newly delivered secrets every Sunday on the PostSecret website.  Every week Frank posts about 30 never-before-seen secrets.  But if you are a book lover, his posts can't beat the hard copies he has published of selected secrets, which you can find here, in our catalog.
When I read my first PostSecret book in that tiny apartment bedroom, I sped through it like it was a suspense-thriller.  As soon as I finished, I went back through and lingered over my favorites.  When I was through poring over the art others had created to set their secrets free, it got me thinking about my own secrets.  A day or two later, I set to work turning one into a postcard to send to Frank.  It was beautiful!  I addressed the back, carefully applied the postage stamp, and walked across campus to the mail box.  I put my other letters down the chute, and paused.  I wasn't ready to let go of this powerful declaration my secret had become, so I tucked it back into my bag.  I never sent my secret.  Instead, it hangs on a wall in my bedroom as encouragement for my soul. 

Thinking about and expressing our secrets can be such freeing acts.  When we no longer have to hold inside something so huge, when we can share it with another person, it loses its power over us.  Or if it is a positive secret, as mine was, expressing it can unleash its potential.  Another huge aspect of the PostSecret concept is that seeing others' secrets can set us free or encourage just as much as acknowledging our own secrets does.  We may realize that the secrets we thought we bore alone belong to others as well, and the feelings of shame and isolation that secrets so often wield over us diminish.  It is worth noting that perhaps all of these benefits occur less so when our sharing is anonymous rather than face-to-face with loved ones, but sharing at all is a great start.  On the lighter side, not all secrets are dark and life-changing.  Sometimes they are just plain ridiculous, and that only adds to the addiction.  There's something at PostSecret for all of us. 

Check it out and let us know what you think!  Or if you are already familiar with PostSecret, how has it impacted you?  Have you sent in a secret?  Has another person's secret affected your life?


Anonymous said...

I love PostSecret! I check the website every week and have read every book. PostSecret has always been to me this unknown community that supports one another. You can always find secrets that represent your own. I have sent in two secrets, never seen them in the books or on the website, but it was incredibly cathartic to just let it go out into the world. The other secrets affect me so much that I regularly print out secrets that affect me in any fashion (I feel strongly about, make me laugh, represent me) and paste them into their own journal. Basically, I have my very own extra special PostSecret book.

Hannah said...

Hi Anonymous! It really is addictive, isn't it? What a great idea to make your own PostSecret journal - I may have to start my own. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!