By John Michael Uba
We earn our souls through our suffering, according to Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret and guest speaker to a crowd Thursday night at the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Minor.
Together Active Minds, the Wellness Center, Student Health and Counseling Services and Associated Students, Inc. Student Activities and Programs hosted Warren’s PostSecretLive!, an intimate, personal synergy about the light of people and the dark side of mental health, with suicide being one of the main topics presented.
“What I tried to do tonight is take people on an emotional journey through the funniest, most hopeful, painful, hidden kind of kindness, romantic secrets I’ve ever received,” said Warren.
Warren’s PostSecret is a community art project started in 2005 where people can send secrets anonymously on a postcard which are then posted on the PostSecret Website, art exhibits or published PostSecret books.
His PostSecret project is well renowned, drawing over a million people to the website, expressing their hidden secrets and regrets resulting in a website that they can trust and feel safe with.
“I immediately recognized the logo,” said Carlos Gomez, a third-year biotechnology student who has been familiar with PostSecret for seven years after his sister showed him the website.
“Lots of the postcards deal with suicide, depression, other issues like that, but like he shared [there] was also lots of funny stories about their lives,” added Gomez. “The secret doesn’t have to be a bad secret, it can be anything.”
The moments prior to the initial event allowed students the opportunity to write their own secrets on one of the postcards provided.
Many of the anonymous secrets written and displayed on the table ranged from multiple themes, such as not feeling attractive enough, hoping to fix social issues, disliking their current situations, cheating on their partner multiples times, wishing to try harder and wishing to just be happy.
“I’ve always felt the postcards are magical and hold special power, and they certainly have in my life,” said Warren in regards to using the postcards as the trick behind PostSecret.
“Mine started in camp when my mom gave me postcards and told me to mail them home when something interesting happened and when I did, I came home and I received them in the mail. I thought it was magical how I had written those postcards as my past self and here I was seeing it as my future self,” said Warren about his _ÀåÂ_Ärst use of postcards. Since suicide was a big focus of the night, Warren said that statistically, about four people in the audience at that very moment were seriously thinking about taking their own lives.
He shared a story about a person he knows who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, the second most popular suicide site.
When he was about to jump off the bridge, he thought to himself that he had made a mistake, but it was too late for him since he already let go of the railings and plunged down to the water. However, he is one of the very few people
who survived the fall, with only 26 other survivors since 2005.
The host included the statistic that military veterans have died more by their own hands than by terrorist attacks or on the battle_ÀåÂ_Äeld, with about 20 veterans committing suicide each day.
“I’m actually part of Active Minds,” said Jos Serrano, a fifth-year liberal studies student. “I mean our secrets are nothing to feel bad about, and this event kind of reminds me of that.”
PostSecretLive! also provided an open mic session for the crowd with two microphones on opposing sides so participants could stand up and express their secrets to the audience.
Some students eventually conquered their fears and told their confessions, ranging from one’s desire to fix relations with family members, one’s hope to marry their current special someone, one’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder, loss of trust and the death of a loved one through suicide.
“A lot of people get the chance to say what’s on their minds and really connect with each other,” said Peter Francesco, a _ÀåÂ_Äfthyear manufacturing engineering student who attended the event. “I really feel like a lot of people got to get their inner demons out; I like doing it, it feels good when I get the chance.”
There was also a raf_ÀåÂÛ_e, which provided winners a copy of the PostSecret book that contains secrets from a wide range of people.
Warren’s PostSecretLive! wasn’t all dark, as he also shared stories of humor, romance, joy and hopeful acts of kindness, projecting the message that a simple random act of generosity can go a long way for someone suffering from mental illness.
“Secrets are the currency of intimacy and if you can _ÀåÂ_Änd the power to share your story, you live a fuller life,” said Warren.
Anyone can send his or her own secret to PostSecret by mailing a four-by-six postcard to the PostSecret art project address: 13345 Copper Ridge Rd. Germantown, MD 20874.
Postcards can also be scanned and emailed to Frank@postsecret.com.
For more information, visit the website at postsecret.com.
John Michael Uba / The Poly Post
Frank Warren encouraged students to participate in sharing secrets live.
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