We all have something to hide, something we feel uncomfortable telling others or something we want to say but can’t summon the courage to say it. So don’t worry, you’re not alone.
“Secrets are the currency of intimacy. When we share our secrets they change from walls to bridges. The stuff we think makes us different or weird is really our common humanity.”
In 2005, Frank Warren, a small business owner of 20 years with no artistic training or background, decided to create the community art project, PostSecret, where anyone from around the world can send him a postcard with their secret on the back and have it shared for all to see.
Frank was prompted to create the idea by “A boring job and a sense that many of us have a rich interior life to share.” In its earliest stages “People thought is was a “crazy idea” – my mom thought it was “diabolical”.
PostSecret has actively helped with suicide prevention by creating the resource International Suicide Prevention Wiki which provides people with a worldwide directory of suicide hotlines, text-lines and online chatting. The project has also won the Lifetime Achievement Award for Suicide Prevention, with Frank himself winning the Mental Health Advocacy Lifetime Achievement Award. There are some things we wish we had access to in our youth to help us and Frank understands that he too needed something like this when he was younger.
‘Knowing that I was not alone with feelings of isolation and purposeless would have helped remove the stigma and maybe allowed me to ask for help sooner”
When Dscribe asked Frank the intention of PostSecret he replied, “Sometimes the burden of keeping a secret is the worst part. That feeling that you are alone or different. My hope is that PostSecret can remove stigma and shame so people are not as kept by their secrets.”
A secret can be about anything. It can be humorous, shocking, scary, appalling, depressing, or anything in between. So you’re probably wondering if all the secrets that are sent to Frank are shared to the public.
“I just tried to share the secrets that I thought were brave and sincere, and spoke to me.”
But can a secret be too revealing? Can it be dangerous? If anyone can share anything then some people might just take anything to mean anything.
“Nearly all of the secrets arrive anonymously, but I have been contacted by the police and FBI before.”
But not all secrets are anonymous! With some people revealing their secrets live during PostSecret live or simply by not going out of their way to hide who they are.
PostSecret: The Show is currently on tour in America. The program consists of people being subjected to an immersive experience that goes through the journey and background of secrets and their origin.
But in Australians, the only ways we can connect to this project are by reading one of Frank’s six best-selling PostSecret books, reading the PostSecret blog every Sunday for new secrets, watching the TED Talk ‘Half a million secrets’ or even posting your own secret.
We go through life seeking help from others that we meet and those that we become close to. Dscribe asked Frank to share the best advice he has ever been given.
“Sometimes, better than any advice, is someone who will patiently listen when we are in need.”
We also got into the PostSecret spirit and asked him what his strongest reaction has been to a secret that was posted and what that secret was.
“I go along and bitch and complain about my mom, but really I would give my right arm just to have her still in my life.”
So maybe, life wouldn’t be all that worse and maybe a whole lot better if we just opened up to people and actively tried to remove the associations we have with them, because in reality we all have something we want to share and someone who we can connect to on an emotional level without even knowing them.
For anyone struggling with a secret they cannot bear to share.
“You are never alone with your secrets and bravely deciding what to reveal and conceal about ourselves is how we tell our story. Tell a good story.”