Frank Warren aims to share interesting secrets, celebrate people's stories at PostSecret Live event


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An anonymous postcard sent to Frank Warren and shared on the PostSecret website. (Courtesy/PostSecret.com)

More than 10 years ago, Frank Warren handed out postcards on the sidewalks of Washington D.C. with simple instructions: write down a secret you’ve never told anyone before.

Since then, Warren has received more than a million secrets mailed to him anonymously on postcards. He shares some of the secrets every Sunday on PostSecret.com.

Warren said he will share the most beautiful, heartbreaking and inspiring secrets he has ever received at PostSecret Live, presented by Central Michigan University's Program Board, at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 in Plachta Auditorium. The event is free and open to CMU students and the community. 

With a collection of a wide range of secrets — some romantic ones that have brought people together and some that have caused Warren to be contacted by the FBI — Warren looks forward to sharing some of the most interesting ones at CMU.

Elizabeth Reyna-Hernandez, Program Board’s lecture director, said Program Board members thought PostSecret Live would be a good event to bring CMU students together. 

“We’re constantly being told to look out for each other and take care of one another,” Reyna-Hernandez said. “Frank sends the message about how truly similar we are. We all have problems we face but through the help of others, we can get through those problems.”

Warren hopes to open up microphones at the event and have people in the audience share their confessions. He said it’s the most emotional and memorable part of the night and has sometimes even resulted in marriage proposals.

“I believe secrets are the currency of intimacy. If we can find the best ways to face the secrets we keep from ourselves, I think the act of sharing them can be transformative,” Warren said. “It can change who we are and it can remind us that no matter how alone we feel, we’re never truly alone with our secrets. Our secrets are the walls that separate us and the bridges that connect us with others and who we truly are.”

Warren has received a lifetime achievement award for suicide prevention. The PostSecret community has raised over a million dollars for suicide prevention and has created a comprehensive database of suicide prevention resources. The link to the International Suicide Prevention Wiki can be found on the PostSecret website.

“There are some secrets that are connected to stigma, to the feeling of shame, " Warren said. "I think the more we can talk about and share those secrets, the more we remove the obstacles that might stop people from asking for the help they might need or asking for the help a friend might need. Sometimes the very idea of stigma makes us think there’s no help.”

Though some of the secrets he receives are emotionally heavy, some of them are romantic, joyful, humorous or kind. The PostSecret Live event is a celebration of people’s stories, he said.

“My goal is to share the message I wish I had heard when I was in college, when I felt at times alone or without direction: the idea that there’s always hope and help,” Warren said. “Through the powerful stories we could share about ourselves, I think we have the opportunity to help our whole community.”

He said this project has taught him that there are two kinds of secrets: secrets people keep from others and secrets they keep from themselves.

“If we can face and uncover some of those uncomfortable truths, it allows us to take ownership of our secrets rather than our secrets owning us,” Warren said. 

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