I have a secret. I once broke up with a boy through a note I scribbled in second period History class. Give me a break, I was 13. All foolishness aside, though the profoundness is relative to each person, everyone has a secret. A man looking for a deeper purpose in life discovered this worldwide commonality and created an international phenomena known as Post Secret. Transcending the blog created by Frank Warren, Post Secret has been used in media such as The All-American Rejects music video for Dirty Little Secret, books such as “Confessions on Life Death and God”, and two traveling art exhibits.
You may be asking yourself, what IS Post Secret? Frank Warren came up with this ‘crazy’ idea which sparked into a blog that has touched the hearts of thousands of people all over the world. His simple concept involves people writing secrets they have been harboring and never told anyone on post cards and mailing them in.
On Oct. 19, 2010, Frank walked across the stage at Bailey Hall and introduced himself to the audience, “Hi. I’m Frank and I collect secrets.”
The tickets for this event sold out long before Tuesday night. There was a hush among the crowd as Frank talked about life, secrets, and family, sharing stories that made us laugh and made us want to cry. He explained that there are two kinds of secrets: the secrets we keep from others and the secrets we hide from ourselves. From his talk it is clear that his goal is to break down those barriers that are holding us back, which will allow us to grow together as a community, and realizing that no one is alone.
What started out as a ‘crazy’ idea for a project has blossomed into a universal community bringing together people of various races, creeds, sexualities, cultures, and colorful pasts. Frank’s epiphany came when he received a secret written on a broken door. It read, “The holes are from when my mom tried knocking down my door so she could continue to beat me.” The gut-wrenching solemnity of this sent goose bumps throughout the crowd, myself included. Once he put up the picture of this secret on his blog, Frank immediately received a flood of e-mails from kids, teenagers, and adults across the country telling their stories of similar situations. At this moment he realized that this ‘crazy’ idea could change lives and consequentially change the world.
Many of the proceeds generated by Post Secret are donated to suicide outreach programs. Plagued by suicides of loved ones in his own life, Frank is on a mission to stop what the Surgeon General deems as the most preventable form of death. One of the most inspiring stories Frank told that night was of a secret mailed to him then posted on the blog reading, “I am an illegal alien. No one wants me here. I’m going to jump of the Golden Gate Bridge this summer.” Immediately, over 60,000 followers of Post Secret created a facebook group called “Please Don’t Jump.” The movement became so vast and widespread that the mayor of San Francisco designated Sept. 22 as “Please Don’t Jump Day” to raise awareness about suicide and prevention.
On a local level, Frank let the Cornell community know that he believes our campus has shown such great leadership in the face of recent hardships on campus related to suicide that other campuses should emulate. He goes on to say that Cornell doesn’t hide from the incidents; we stand as an example to other campuses that are faced with similar tragedies.
At the end of his talk, Frank allowed several students and other people in attendance to come up to two microphones in the aisles to share their own secrets or ask questions. Everyone listened attentively as our fellow classmates and community members poured a little bit of their hearts out to us. With each confession, we were all brought that much closer. To echo my favorite quote from Frank that night, “the children most broken by the world are the ones growing into adults who will change it.”