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Anonymous Secrets and Compassion

Posted Jun 27 2010 8:33am

About a year ago, a friend of mine showed me a book full of secrets. Not their own secrets, but anonymous secrets on postcards from people all over the world. This was my formal introduction to PostSecret .

The book was based on a popular blog, and I started reading the site every once in a while. I found it so interesting. The secrets ranged from being incredibly funny and amusing to being downright sad. Some of them were moving, some of them I could relate to, and some of them made me angry. But I kept going back, and when I found secrets that really resonated with me, I would save them and look back at them later on. I found it comforting.

What exactly is PostSecret?

From their site:

“PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.”

Some of the secrets are really silly:

Some make me groan out load:

Some are kind of scandalous:

Some people really hate Tom Cruise and his Scientology beliefs:

Some people have secret fantasies about the former president:

Those are all fun for entertainment purposes…

But some of the secrets- the ones that really stick with me- are about the despair that people feel.

A lot of people talk about depression, being abused, having cancer, losing loved ones, and many other saddening life experiences. Although reading these postcards often brings me to tears, I still like to read them. I like that people are putting these thoughts out there instead of holding them inside, and I like that people respond so well to these secrets. The reason they are anonymous is so that people can freely speak their minds, without fearing judgment and repercussions. However, from what I have seen, a lot of the secrets have shown how much compassion human beings have for one another. After having some negative experiences in my life, I truly used to believe that there were so few good people in the world. I believed that many people are capable of terrible things, and a lot of people are only looking out for themselves; that no one really cares. While it is true that some people are capable of terrible things, and that there are some awful people in the world, I have come to realize that for all of the cold-heartedness, there is also an overwhelming amount of compassion among us.

A few weeks ago, something happened that really helped me to see how true this is, and solidified my shifted thought pattern that there are a lot of kind, beautiful people who truly care about others.

Recently, someone wrote the following anonymous secret:

I was shocked to read this article about the number of people who were affected by reading this secret, and how kind-hearted people were being towards the author. There is an ever-growing Facebook group dedicated to this cause, and tens of thousands of people have joined. One person commented on the please don’t jump Facebook group, “If I knew when you’d be at the bridge, I’d drive all the way from Ohio to meet you there, and hold you until you changed your mind.”

This video shows some of the other comments people left:

I was impressed and incredibly touched by this reaction. I have always felt that depression is misunderstood, but suicide in particular is stigmatized in our society. Obviously suicide is a tragedy, but I find that people usually aren’t so saddened by the act itself, but instead condemn the person who does it. I’ve heard it being described as many things: selfish, cowardly, criminal, lazy, insane, failure. It angers me to no end when people say such things. We should be doing everything in our power to prevent such occurrences instead of downplaying the pain people feel. When someone takes their own life, it is nothing short of a tragic event and it is devastating. I would have expected some sympathy for the author of the secret, but I would have also expected a lot of hate. Instead of tearing the person apart, something incredible happened. People came together in a time of need, and tried to prevent such a tragic event from happening.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes…

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” -Anne Frank

All pictures are courtesy of PostSecret .

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