Shared Secrets Bring Togetherness
"I'm happy I can't afford groceries because it's making me lose weight."
"I'm afraid there will be nothing outstanding or interesting to say about me in my obituary."
"I'm not making friends in college because I spend Friday nights on Facebook remembering friends from home."
Last Thursday, two of my best friends and I went to a PostSecret event at UAB.
For those of you unfamiliar with PostSecret, it's an ongoing community art project that began in 2005 thanks to Frank Warren.
People mail in their secrets anonymously on a postcard, and then select secrets are posted on the Web site or displayed in the books or exhibits.
I accompanied my friends to the event because, honestly, I had nothing better to do that night.
I have seen the Web sites and heard the stories about PostSecret, but I never understood what it meant to some people until I witnessed secrets being revealed in front of hundreds.
As I sat in the audience, listened to public "thank-you's" directed to Frank Warren: "Your Web site has saved my life"; "I don't know what I would do without PostSecret."
Of course the concept is entertaining, but is it actually life-saving?
I was apprehensive until I looked deeper into the secrets.
I realized some were ideas I have considered or emotions I have felt before that I wouldn't reveal to just anyone.
Warren said he has been referred to as "The Most Trusted Stranger in America," even when his mother dubbed his idea of PostSecret "diabolical."
Anonymously revealing to strangers the one thing you normally wouldn't tell anyone could be used as a form of therapy.
The sense of community and relief felt when identifying with the secrets of others could be considered therapeutic as well.
I might not be speaking for everyone, but I know that holding in a secret can sometimes cause more pain than the secret itself.
So, what could be better than releasing it with no consequences?
Although PostSecret is a convenient method of venting about secret disappointments or insecurities, that doesn't mean everyone is willing to take the time to scribble their secrets on a postmarked square of cardboard and send it across the country.
If you don't feel like taking the time to record and mail your secret, then read all of the other secrets; I guarantee you'll find one that you can identify with.
And it's possible you'll find one you thought was exclusively your secret.
PostSecret allows us to hear unheard voices and read unheard stories.
Each secret comes from a unique situation, but seeing a secret that is shared between you and one other random person in the world can provide you with a peace of mind in knowing that you are not alone. You will be bonded with your secret sharer in an understood feeling of togetherness. In fact, the word "secret" in Hebrew means "come closer."
My favorite secret that I came across this weekend was on a photo of a pregnant woman with a globe painted on her stomach. The secret states, "We're all so connected, I desperately wish we knew it."