I found PostSecret sometime in 2007. I know the year, because 2007 was a life changing year for me. If you aren’t familar with PostSecret, this is how Frank Warren (the creator) describes it, in short, on his blog
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.
Just check out the blog, it’ll change your life.
Last night I was fortunate enough to make it into a free PostSecret Event here in Seattle to hear Frank Warren speak. I even got my picture with him.
After the event I got in the car with the two new friends I had gone with and we started discussing what we liked and disliked about the event. We all agreed that although the speaking was fantastic, that we wanted to see more secrets. I think we only saw about 6 never seen secrets, most of the other ones he shared I had seen on the blog or in his books. At the time I was disappointed, but when I got home and looked at the latest PostSecret book that I purchased at the event, I thought, “maybe the event wasn’t about just seeing new secrets, maybe it was more about encouraging people with secrets, and talking about the power of the secrets”.
If I’ve ever mentioned PostSecret to you, I’ve probably also told you that I have about 8-10 secrets that I’ve always thought about sending in, but never have. I even wrote one out on a postcard shortly after moving to Seattle in 2008, but instead of mailing it I just tossed it in the trash.
I’ve read that at previous PostSecret events Frank will give everyone a blank postcard and instruct the audience to write a secret and pass it around the auditorium anonymously; then at the end of the event he invites people to go to the microphone and share the secret they are holding, which belongs to someone else in the room. When I saw the blank postcards sitting on each chair last night I got very excited, but Frank never really instructed anyone to write and pass it along, which was disheartening since I had spent all day trying to decide which secret I would write and pass along. Let’s just say that secret is still in my head.
Tonight, a Friday night, which I opted to just stay home alone and relax, I started reading the new book, and reading secrets on the blog and got inspired. For over two years I’ve been reading other people’s secrets, yet been too scared to share my own. That changed tonight. The event last night really got to me.
I got my laptop and neatly typed up my secret. I knew exactly how I wanted to word it, since I have been thinking it over and over for more than 2 years now. I dug through old photographs to find the exact one I had always imagined I would send in. I took the blank, pre-addressed, postcard I got on my chair last night and methodically taped my photo to the back of it, then I cut out my secret and carefully taped it over the faces on the picture. I thought about leaving the faces exposed, but if my secret ever makes it on the website (which I really really hope it does) anyone who has known me in the past 3 years will know it’s me. I think the VT baseball hat I left peaking through the secret will help.
As I walked downstairs to take the dogs out this evening, with my secret in my hand, postage attached, and ready for the mail slot I could feel my heart racing. I never thought just typing up a few sentences and dropping them in the mailbox would be such a big deal. I have a new found appreciation for all the secrets I read each week.
I stopped in front of the mailbox and reread my secret one last time. I was trying to convince myself that I was just checking for grammar, but my heart was beating a mile a minute and obviously knew something I didn’t. It sounds so cliche, but I honestly let out a sigh of relief as I dropped my secret in the tiny mail slot, knowing that it wasn’t my secret anymore.
As I turned towards the front door of my building I saw a young couple walking down the path, hand-in-hand, staring lovingly into each others eyes, and then watched as they pause for just a second for a quick kiss. Normally I would want to gag at this sight, but as I just had dropped my secret in the mail box, I thought, “Well, isn’t it ironic” (thank you Alanis Morrisette).
If my secret makes it on the website I won’t feel the need to tell anybody, but I only hope that the person it is meant for sees it. Maybe not the day it’s posted, but sometime in their life.