Post Secret’s Frank Warren Visits ESU

One of the anonymous postcards Frank Warren received. Photo Credit / Richard MacTough
One of the anonymous postcards Frank Warren received. Photo Credit / Richard MacTough
One of the anonymous postcards Frank Warren received.
Photo Credit / Richard MacTough

By Victoria Costello and Richard MacTough
SC Staff Writers

On Wednesday, April 22, over 150 students filled the Keystone Room for “The Most Trusted Stranger in America.” During this event, the author of Post Secret, Frank Warren, presented Post Secret Live.

Post Secret, a project started in Washington DC in 2005, allows people from around the globe to mail in anonymous letters that reveal their deepest, darkest secrets.

During the presentation, Warren read several of the stories and secrets people sent him. The audience laughed and cried in response.

Warren also presented the audience with the opportunity to share their own skeletons. Though this may seem scary, Warren is compassionate and accepting of everyone, no matter what his or her secrets are.

Later, Warren answered a few questions about himself and his vision regarding Post Secret.

“You know, some of the questions you get asked a lot with a project like this are: ‘Did you ever think you would get this big when you started it?’; ‘How did you start the project?’; ‘What did you learn from the project?’,” he explained.

However, Warren believes that all of these questions are answered during the Post Secret event.

He said, “I try and craft those answers in a way that really offers some depth of my story, but also connects the audience members to other students’ stories, and hopefully, at the end when they share their secrets live, with their stories.”

Learning about other people’s bucket lists is always interesting. Everyone has different desires and wants. Warren seemed happy to talk about his almost completed bucket list.

“On my bucket list… Well, I’m over fifty years old, so thankfully a lot of items on my bucket list I’ve checked off already. It’s great to have been invited to the White House. It’s wonderful to be connected to a #1 New York Times best-selling book. But ultimately, the Post Secret project gave me a chance to dedicate myself to something that I find very meaningful and purposeful, and I think that’s probably the ultimate,” said Warren.

Warren’s second book is called, “My Secret.” The postcard he created for the book is made out of the front cover of a “The Catcher in the Rye” paperback.

“I think it chronicles young people trying to understand who they are and what the world is really about, and seeing through what’s fake for kind of the secrets down below. So for me that’s been a real important book,” commented Warren.

Warren said that his inspiration is Alison Malman, the founder of Active Minds.

According to Warren, Malman lost her brother to suicide. Warren lost a friend and a family member to suicide as well, so he could really relate to her.

“Active Minds is a very inspiring, student-led organization on hundreds of college campuses across the country where young people are taking a leadership role and redefining our relationship with mental wellness,” said Warren.

He mentioned the fact that Malman turned her personal tragedy and pain into something far-reaching, beautiful, and helpful to young people inspires him a lot.

Warren decided to do something similar with his Post Secret project.

“I try and travel to college campuses and share the stories behind the secrets — the stories — that are inspiring, sexual, funny, and painful. But, I try and leave behind a message that I wish I really felt when I was in high school and college and felt depressed, isolated, alone, and without direction. I think ultimately that message is that each one of us has a secret that could break your heart,” said Warren.

The common themes in his post cards are about the search for intimacy. He said they are mostly about people struggling to build a relationship with a partner, working through a break up, or understanding how to build their marriage and keep it on the right track.

The postcards Warren receives are normally personal and they are all anonymous. He explained that he does try to help the individuals he hears from through his project.

He said, “I think when people share a secret with me, it’s not like going to a priest or a therapist. I don’t think people really want or care about my view, suggestions, or reaction. I think it’s about their personal journey, letting a secret go physically to a stranger, and not being judged about it. But, I do try and reach back, and through the Post Secret project, we’ve raised over one million dollars for suicide prevention.”

Post Secret began in January of 2005, making it 10-yearsold. Warren explained the future of the organization, and he mentioned that there is a play about Post Secret touring. There is also a new Post Secret app available for iPhones.

Warren is also in discussion with the Smithsonian Institute about creating an art exhibit about Post Secret. He credits all the strangers that have trusted him over the years to the project’s lasting success.

Post Secret is about letting go secrets that many would never feel comfortable sharing with their peers. Share the secrets — it helps — and it can change you, or millions of others.

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