I walk into the auditorium with a freshly torn ticket stub in my hand, my roommate, Kaitlyn walking to the left of me, and two ushers in front of us holding a stack of blank pieces of paper. At first I thought we were going to be handed a program, but instead we were given a blank postcard, and not just any blank postcard…one that was asking for our secrets! Little did I know how integral this card was to the Post Secret world and to Suicide Prevention.
This past friday I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Frank Warren, the creator behind Postsecret.com speak in front of an audience at Southern Connecticut State University. I’ll admit before this event what little I knew about Post Secret was the All American Rejects video and the couple of postsecrets that my roommate, Kaitlyn would show me at random. I had no idea how much of an impact it was really making on so many people’s lives. This site has been an outlet and a safe haven for those who are experiencing extreme lows and even joyous highs. The human spirit has been interwoven into the secrets of the Post Secret Archive. Frank rightfully describes this human spirit by saying, “Our secrets are bridges that connect us to others, our humanity.”
The lecture truly brought me through those highs and lows of the human spirit. There were moments that brought me to tears and moments that made me laugh and smile. The lecture featured Frank Warren affectionately talking about his memories in Washington, his favorite post secrets, and his message of hope to the world. You have to respect a man who can stand in the heart of the most dangerous streets of Washington, handing out blank post cards and asking for people’s secrets (kind of like the ones we received when we walked into the auditorium…starting to see a pattern here!). This man has been dubbed the world’s most trusted stranger in America and he who knows the most secrets. Over 7 million people visit the site, and post secret has raised over 1 million dollars for HopeLine (suicide hotline).
I could never re-create the Post Secret experience in this one blog post but I can talk about some moments within the lecture that truly touched me just so you can get a taste of the evening I experienced this past friday.
These are the top three moments within the lecture that touched me on a soul level.
- When he talked about the last voicemail and showcased a montage of last voicemail calls
- The young man who discovered that he had a terminal illness and could never see the world how he originally planned
- The end of the lecture where brave individuals from the audience got up and shared their secrets.
Those moments brought me to tears, literally bawling my eyes out, but it didn’t touch me on the soul level because it made me cry, it touched me, because it also gave me hope. Hope for humanity, Hope for future generations, and even Hope for myself.
- The voicemail was brought up when Frank shares this story of this young woman who still has the last voicemail of her departed Grandmother. In the voicemail it was her grandmother singing happy birthday to her. Have you ever saved a voicemail, video, or picture of a loved one just on the off-chance that something will happen to that relative? That at least you have something tangible of that person to remind you or their presence even when its hard to feel it? The voicemail, surprisingly, is a secret of many. Many of us have something “tangible/audible” of a loved one who passed away to remind us (even just a sliver) of their essence and being.
- Frank also told us a story about a young man using the Post Secret app. This young man posted a post about how he was just diagnosed with a terminal illness and he was looking out his window realizing that he will never get the opportunity to see the world how he originally planned. His life would be cut short, before he could even see the world. So in response to his post the community of Post Secret started posting images from their neighborhoods and cities from around the world, so even if this young man couldn’t physically see the world he could virtually see the world through the kindness of strangeness. I can’t even imagine the wave of emotion that could flood someone who just discovered that time was pushing against them. How can you come to terms with the fact that you are going to die much sooner than you planned? That’s life altering. I can only assume that the kindness of those strangers brought comfort in some way,shape, or form.
- God be with all the brave souls who shared their secrets with the group. I will not share them on this post out of respect for their courage, but I can say that the secrets of few are the secrets of many. There is a quote out there that says you should treat everyone you encounter with kindness, because you never know what battles they are fighting on a daily basis. Frank made a wonderful analogy during the presentation when describing his childhood abuse and his dark moments of mental health issues poetically saying, ” The children most broken by the world become the adults who change it.”There are a lot of broken children out there but I also believe that a floodgate of changes are on the horizon.
Franks favorite secret is “We are all part of something bigger, but we are all part of it together.”