“Hi, I’m Frank and I collect secrets,” Frank Warren said as he stepped on the stage to tell a lifetime of secrets that people decided to share with a stranger. He also allowed students to expose their secrets for the first time in their life. Warren began the project of PostSecrets in 2004 by passing out blank index cards to strangers and telling them to write down a true secret that they never told anyone before.
Some people would write down their secret, turn it back in to Frank, anonymously. While others commonly told him that they did not have secrets; Frank believed that these people had the best secrets.
Once Warren’s PostSecrets program began, he received PostSecrets on postcard to his house. Sometimes the envelopes would have extra stamps to make sure that it was delivered. Some other letters had Warren’s home address as the return address so that the secrets would not be returned to them.
Secrets have been exposed through art, food and other objects, Warren explained. He had secrets written on fruits, Rubix cubes, sonograms, coffee beans, wedding programs and so on.
Since thousands of secrets were mailed to Warren’s home each week, he created a Web site, www.PostSecrets.com. On this site, viewers can read some of the secrets he received and also read the blog that he wrote. Warren has published several books that expose others secrets.
Warren made the interesting point after this that some people may think that by sending him their secrets that it would make the secret go away. Warren told the students in the audience to write down their secret on paper and decide what they would do with it. Would they rip up the paper, send it to a stranger or bury it deep inside?
Warren is considered the most trusted stranger because people are coming to him to tell their secret. One woman wrote out her secret, thought about sending it, and then ripped it up. Warren asked if anyone put their secrets in a box, would they bury the secrets or bring them out.
“Don’t keep a secret because it keeps you,” Warren said.
After PostSecrets were revealed to Warren, he realized while reading about other people’s lives that he had a secret that he hid. It took strangers to tell their stories to help Warren realize that he was doing the same thing. He told his family his secret and wrote about it in one of his books.
When Warren was younger, he was held down by two kids as they spit in his eyes. He felt humiliated and therefore did not want to tell anyone.
After realizing that he kept this a secret, he now tells his audiences about what he has kept. He continued to explain that there are two types of secrets. The secrets that we hide from others and the secrets that we hide from ourselves.
In the establishment of PostSecrets, Warren said that the secrets people share are to offer an apology, give forgiveness and sharing to go back to that part in their life and retake control of what happened.
Warren noted that many of the secrets he has heard are about self-harm and loneliness; not usually about crimes or homicides. Warren gave some statics about the reality of self-harm. He said that two times as many people try to commit suicide than murder. That 25 percent of people will think about suicide and/ or are depressed. He told everyone to look around the audience because “odds are, the person next to you has tried (to commit suicide).”
Warren shared a woman’s secret that she put a baby up for adoption 15 years ago and her husband does not know about it. She was in the audience of Warren’s PostSecrets when he told her secret. The woman told her husband that her “secret was outed” and asked if he wanted her to tell him. He responded that a room full of strangers heard her secret and that was enough people.
“Each of us has a secret that could break your heart if we shared,” Warren said.
Warren said that if he could go back to prevent starting PostSecrets, he would not. It makes him feel like he has real authenticity in his life. He enjoys reading other peoples secrets and that he was “haunted by so many secrets in a good way.” He connected PostSecrets to a national suicide hotline.
Warren said that people call the suicide hotline to know that someone cares to listen to them. He says that it is a burden that people should not go through alone.
“The words need to hear your voice,” Warren said.
Warren allowed students to go to the front of the auditorium and tell everyone in the room what their secret is. Secrets ranged from self-harm, to loved ones, to retail tricks and more. Warren thanked them all for sharing and then was able to relate someone else’s secret to theirs or he would talk about what the student said.
“Free your secret and become who you are,” Warren writes in his books.
Due to the event of PostSecrets, WCU officials would like to remind students of the confidential resources available on campus, such as the women’s center.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second-year student. She is majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.