Have you ever told someone your deepest, darkest secret? Was it cathartic? Did you feel
relieved, as if a weight was lifted off of your shoulders?
Well, that’s the principle behind PostSecret, an ongoing community mail art project. They believe that everyone has a secret. Some have secrets that individuals volunteer to share with family and friends and some who have secrets they will tell no one. These secrets, if forever concealed, can lead to the burden of overwhelming guilt and regret, among others. PostSecret reveals and displays secrets written on postcards that have been anonymously submitted from people all around the world. People c
an decorate and express their secret how ever they choose, as long as it fits on a postcard. Creator Frank Warren, with the help of his team, select only a few from the hundreds of thousands of secrets he receives to post on his website, exhibit in his books, or unveil in his guest
Beginning with a blog, PostSecret has expanded from displaying a minimum of 10 secrets every Sunday to now 20 secrets every Sunday. Here, Warren uploads photographs and emails that people have submitted. Again, thousands of people view PostSecret’s Sunday Secrets weekly. Warren has collected hundreds of thousands of secrets since its founding in early 2005 and has exhibits all around the country.
There is something liberating in reading someone’s deepest secrets. Some are as startling as, “I only love one of my children.” Despite the tense topics exposes it individual’s secrets, people find inspiration in reading someone else’s innermost thoughts.
When asked about the purpose, Frank Warren explained, “the secrets are meant to be empowering both to the author and to those who read it. …The postcards are inspirational to those who read them, have healing powers for those who write them, give hope to people who identify with a stranger's secret, and create an anonymous community of acceptance.” In 2008, Warren and PostSecret collaborated with 1-800-suicide in order to bring hope to anonymous individuals who revealed in their secret that they were considering ending their life. Frank has spoken throughout college campuses giving lectures and prompting discussions, sharing his experiences through the PostSecret project.
So, what’s the appeal? As an avid PostSecret fan, there is comfort in knowing that someone, either far away or close by, male or female, older or younger, gay or straight, could be experiencing the same thing that you are. Moreover, this project provides hope. The PostSecret community embraces people’s vulnerability and provides a welcoming atmosphere for everyone’s secrets.
With five books out, these PostSecret compilations include secrets organized into particular topics like dreams, prayers, confessions, memories, etc. The new tradition that has risen from PostSecret is slipping one’s own secrets into a PostSecret book at a store such as Barnes and Noble or Borders. If someone were to buy it, they will receive your anonymous secret, just for him or her. Upon receiving critical acclaim for its success and morally sound intentions, PostSecret has expanded to include French and German versions, making it no longer a national, but a global art project. Also, with the recent popularity of social networking, PostSecret has benefited from these sites and reached out to communities through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Despite the submitter's anonymous status, people are still hesitant to reveal their secrets. Some post these confessions, hoping that they will be recognized. For others, being recognized is their biggest fear. The release of a secret simultaneous emits feelings of liberation and terror. It is this risk, however, that drives people to finally expunge themselves of this burden.
Will you submit your secret?
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