AFTER attending “professional” secret keeper Frank Warren’s Postsecret event in Melbourne, Diane Leow reflects on why secrets ought to be shared.
Have you ever kept a secret?
Chances are, you have. You’ve probably chanced upon a plethora of secrets thus far – some you relished knowing, others you never wanted to be associated with.
Frank Warren is a professional secret keeper – quite literally. As the founder of postsecret.com, he receives secrets that have been etched on postcards every single day.
This is how it works. Anyone, from anywhere in the world, can write a secret on a postcard. The only condition – no one else can know about it (which is the definition of a secret anyway). Mail it to Frank’s home address (13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874 USA).
Every Sunday, he picks ten postcards and posts them on postsecret.com for the world to see.
To date, he has 300,000 postcards – all of them curated and kept in a special room in his personal home.
There are two types of secrets
Postsecret has taken on a life of its own. From a small project that was only meant to be confined to Frank’s neighbourhood, it has grown to a worldwide phenomenon, spawning books, merchandise, and bringing Frank all around the world to share more about his work.
On his recent tour to Australia, Frank was very blatant about the art of secret keeping. Some say he is the most trusted man in America. But he doesn’t take this lightly.
Battling anxiety and suicidal thoughts, Frank knew that secrets have the power to destroy people. He understood that once locked away, they keep us from being who we truly are.
But… there are two types of secrets. The ones we keep from others, and the ones we unwittingly keep from ourselves.
It’s easy to be burdened by the secrets of others, but what happens when we don’t realise our very own secrets lock us away?
It is time to reconcile our secrets with ourselves.
Secrets are the currency of intimacy
So many of us look for that one person we can tell all our secrets to. That one person that will accept us for all we are, and all we’re not.
And it’s true, there are people who will run away or shut us out when they see or hear something they didn’t expect.
As cliché as this sounds, those who are worth the while will stick around. They will force you to confront the demons you never wanted to face because it’s so important for you to understand what you’ve locked away before coming into your own.
Suicide prevention starts from that. It starts from sharing what’s closest to our hearts. The darkness that engulfs; the confusion that threatens to take over our lives.
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the walls we build become bridges.
It’s taking the first step to be brave. And the best part?
We can do the same. The smallest act of kindness, or bravery, can sometimes have the biggest impact.
We can all be brave together.
As Frank says, a secret is like a box. We can either choose to bury it, away from everyone else, or we can share the box like a gift.
Screw what everyone else thinks.
Because, ultimately, our secrets make us believe we are alone, when nothing could be further than the truth.
The secrets we hear don’t just belong to those who tell them to us. Their secrets become a part of us; they tell a story. They are a reminder that secrets are not subject to culture.
Melbourne played host to Frank just last month, where a sold out crowd gathered at Hamer Hall on a rainy Thursday evening to hear him share his journey with Postsecret. But it wasn’t just about Frank – the audience was invited to share their secrets, too.
At first, there was a moment of hesitation. Nobody approached the two microphones. And then, all of a sudden people started leaving their seats. The secrets shared ranged from funny to simply heartbreaking.
By the end of the night, tears were shed. We all had a good laugh. And Frank left us with some words of wisdom:
“If you can get from the darkness to the light, once you make it, you are transformed.
The world needs to hear your voice.”
Do you have something to say? Maybe not today. Maybe tomorrow. But don’t forget that you have a voice, and that you are not alone.