I met Tina at one of my PostSecret Lectures. From the back of the audience, she stood up and bravely told her story:
"Frank, I wrote my secret about my eating disorder on a postcard and mailed it to you but it was not one that you picked to display on the PostSecret website, so I decided I needed to take further action on my secret myself. I made the shirt I am wearing now and told myself that I would wear it to school."
At this point, everyone in the audience turned back to see her shirt. The front read, "20% of anorexics will die," and when she turned around we could see that she had listed the symptoms of anorexia on the back of her shirt. She continued her story.
"But as I walked to school wearing my shirt that morning I got really scared imagining how my teachers and friends would react to my secret. Somehow, when I got to my classroom door, I forced myself to walk in. When everyone saw my shirt, not only did they support me, but my classmates asked me if I would make more shirts just like mine so they could wear them too."
I think it's heroic how Tina found a way to share her secret so that it not only brought her a personal sense of healing but also served her school community by raising the issue of eating disorders among her peers.
When I travel to colleges and speak about PostSecret, I share inspiring stories like Tina's, talk about taboo secrets that were kept out of the books, and reflect on my own struggle with a secret I carried for over 30 years.
One of the surprises I have found through this collection of secrets is how it is more than the sum of the individual voices speaking from the postcards. It is more like a conversation about a hidden landscape that we all share but no one talks about.
The two secrets below are an example of this. They were posted together on the PostSecret website.
I am a junior in high school. I have good friends and a loving family. I am smart. I am a good athlete and musician. But I would trade all that in if it meant I would be beautiful.
I spent my high school years believing I was UGLY. I just went through a photo album that had pictures of me over the last 20 years. Turns out I was/am kind of cute. No more wasting time on thinking otherwise.
Both secrets arrived in my mailbox the same week. The postmarks on the cards were different, but when I posted them together they seemed to speak to each other. The secrets read as though they could have been written by the same person at two different points in her life.
Davy Rothbart from FOUND magazine and I will be presenting multimedia presentations about both our projects during a Charity tour to raise funds for 1(800) SUICIDE, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. For more information or to buy tickets online visit the FOUND vs. PostSecret Charity Tour.
Kansas City, MO (November 12)
St. Louis, MO (November 13)
Lexington, KY (November 14)
Indianapolis, IN (November 15)
Ann Arbor, MI (November 16)
Pittsburgh, PA (November 17)
Columbus, OH (November 18)
Asheville, NC (November 30)
Durham, NC (December 1)
Richmond, VA (December 2)
Atlanta, GA (December 3)
Birmingham, AL (December 4)
New Orleans, LA (December 5)
Tomorrow, I will share some secrets I have learned about other authors.