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Psst, I have something to tell you

By Katrina PyneStaff Contributor

Telling other people’s secrets usually gets you into trouble, but Frank Warren spilled the beans on life, death and god at Dalhousie on Jan. 20.
He greeted over a thousand people in the sold-out auditorium in his usual way.
“My name is Frank, and I collect secrets,” he said.
Warren is the creator of the PostSecret Project. In 2004, he sent out 3,000 self-addressed postcards. On each one, he gave instructions to write down a well-kept secret and mail it back.
The first wave of postcards returned.
“It wasn’t long before the whole thing went viral,” Warren said. Now, PostSecret receives postcards from many continents in many languages.
He travels across North America speaking about his bizarre collection and posting them online at www.postsecret.com.
“The bruises on my knees are from masturbating all weekend,” one person wrote.
Another came with a pound of coffee and says, “Where I work, they don’t take inventory, enjoy!”
The most popular postcard Warren receives is, “I pee in the shower.”
Known as the “most trusted stranger in America,” Warren has had half a million anonymous postcards come through his mailbox in Germantown, Maryland.
“I feel like a kid at a candy store when I get the mail,” he said. “Kathy, my mail distributor, has been a really good sport about all this.”
But not all the secrets are humourous. One postcard he picked up had a picture of a battered door on it. As Warren held it tightly in his hands he read, “The holes are from when my mother tried to kick down the door so she could continue beating me.”
“I used to have one of those doors too,” he said. “I was haunted by my past. Talking about my secrets lightened my load.”
Warren said the act of sending a postcard can be cathartic and transformative.
“I think we all have secrets, some tragic and some unbearable,” he said. “You can either bury them inside, or you can bring them into the light and begin to heal.”
In a phone interview, Warren said he was the first to admit PostSecret was a crazy idea. Even his parents were skeptical of the endeavour. His mom called it “diabolical.” Now, Warren says he sees meaning in his project – PostSecret provides a forum for people to come together and let their voices be heard.
All the proceeds from Wednesday’s event went to the Adsum House, a shelter that provides long-term housing and other services for over 300 women every year.
“The children most broken by the world become the adults most likely to change it,” Warren said of the organization.
Warren’s latest book, “Confessions about Life, Death and God,” topped the New York Times’ bestseller list last fall. He has published three books about his postcards since he started in 2004.
Warren says he puts one of his own secrets in each book.
“When you send in a postcard you realize your dirty little secret isn’t that big of a deal,” he said. “We are all connected.”
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s event, Warren invited the audience to share their secrets in front of the auditorium.
About a dozen people jumped to the microphones.
More than one person spoke about dealing with depression, and one girl confessed to a habit of pulling out her hair. Each person sat down with a look of relief after sharing their story. One girl even made her postcard into a paper crane and explained that she had ADHD, which makes it difficult to learn origami.
Later that evening, Warren had the crane next to him as he signed books out in the lobby.
After the event, Kari Beiswanger, 15, from Halifax West High School said she would think about sending in a postcard secret.
“It will have to be a good one though,” she says, “not just any secret will do.”
For Warren, it’s simple.
“Free your secrets and become who you are.”

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