Everyone carries around secrets, it’s inevitable. On September 29 Frank Warren presented Postsecret LIVE! on the Southern Oregon University Campus, a presentation focused on the power of secrets.
In 2004 Warren started the PostSecret project. He encourages people to take a postcard and write down a secret they hadn’t told anyone about, and send it to him. It was these anonymously sent secrets that came from all over the world and personal stories that he shared.
Because of this, Warren’s presentation was heartfelt, authentic, sorrowful, enthusiastic, funny and inspiring. The audience felt everything together as a single entity. There was a sense of belonging throughout the entire room.
“Once you get the secret out or share it, it just like lifts your burden, and there are other people around you that also share the same secrets and you’re not completely alone,” said Cassie Brown, freshman at SOU.
The first postcard Warren showed was a picture of a broken door. It read, “The holes are from where my mom tried to break down my door so she could continue beating me.” The entire room went silent. As Warren talked, more and more pictures of doors with holes came onto the screen.
The purpose of these photos was not to invoke sorrow, but rather to show no one is alone in their struggles.
A section of the presentation that struck me personally was when Warren played voicemails sent into PostSecret. These messages were the last words spoken before the loved ones died. There were young and old people alike. There was a grandfather saying how proud he was of his granddaughter for going to college. It finished with a grandmother singing happy birthday. Their voices brought me to tears.
But even with these stories that brought tears, Warren was able to bring smiles and laughter to the room. He would make jokes and show encouraging post cards. One example was a mother who was proud of her young son coming out at gay.
“He [Warren] said secrets are the currency of intimacy. I feel like that was really deep, powerful and meaningful to me, because it’s completely true,” said Brown. “I feel like if you share yourself with a person it invites them to share something back with you. You’re kinda forming a connection, a relationship by giving them pieces of yourself.”
Warren told stories of strangers coming together to support each other when they were discouraged, depressed or worse. There were couples who found each other through PostSecret. One man used it to propose to his girlfriend.
“I think that it was all really powerful. There were a lot of parts where I just like got goosebumps and completely started crying,” said Brown. “Now that I’ve actually seen it [the presentation], I feel, like in my own personal life, the secrets I have…they don’t feel like chains as much anymore. They just feel like things that I have, instead of like shackles. They are just a part of me.”
I didn’t know anything about PostSecret, and I’m glad now that I didn’t. I was expecting to hear about Warren’s background and how he survived life and how people could too. Instead, he used other people’s secrets to show that no one is alone, no matter what secrets are hidden away. It was powerful, encouraging and eye opening.
To find out more about PostSecret, or to find more information about sending in a secret, visit http://postsecret.com.