During the PostSecret UK and Ireland Tour, I spoke at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall outside of London. That night, I shared secrets with a full house at the Indian-inspired venue, but the most extraordinary story of the night came from a woman in the audience.
After the event, I was signing books in the lobby. A late autumn chill and the smell of clean salt air filled the space as people left through the front doors. A young woman reached my table and with an emotional voice and full eyes told me how a stranger had saved her life weeks earlier when she shared her secret.
One day last month I was so lonely I told my secret for the first time using the PostSecret App. I took a picture of my street and typed. “I stand in the middle of this road at 2am and will cars to hit me.” I sent it out to the world anonymously like a message in a bottle. Right away I started getting back kind and hopeful responses from strangers. That night they saved me but my biggest surprise came tonight!
I asked Sarah to email me her whole story so I could share it in her words. She leaned against the friend she was standing with and said she would.
Sarah’s digital secret had been just one of millions created worldwide and shared using the PostSecret App. The popular App illuminated the hidden connections between people who felt isolated by their secrets. Secrets can be walls that separate us or bridges that show us that the loneliness we may sometimes feel is an illusion.
This was the trailer for the App.
Even though all the PostSecret App secrets and replies were anonymous, each message had a geotag so people could share locally. This also made it possible for me to search the entire database for secrets and replies from Brighton and include them in my presentation. (Secrets can be even more impactful at a PostSecret Event if you think it came from your neighborhood, or from someone sitting in your row.)
The images below were the local and international secrets I selected for the Brighton audience.
Under the images, I included the email that Sarah sent me after I returned home to Maryland.
At your Brighton PostSecret Event, you showed my secret (the one about wanting to be hit by a car). I was so shocked. My gut reaction was to grab the arm of my friend and whisper ‘oh my god that’s mine’. I didn’t even think if I was prepared to admit to it or not. I just did. For a little while I felt quite uneasy, but as the event continued and other people began to share some really moving things, I put it to the back of my mind, but I was shivering for the rest of the night.
It wasn’t until the end of the event and we were getting up to leave that my friend leaned across to me and said that she was one of the people who had replied to my secret. I can’t even begin to describe how that felt. ‘Safe’ is the best I can come up with.