I am writing to thank you. I am at a transitional period in my life, from graduate student to the dismal academic job market. From being in a position that garners respect to potentially working as a minimum-wage cashier to make ends meet. I am another over-educated over-qualified student-loan-riddled 30-something. My secret is that everyone around me expects me to flourish when I leave the academic nest, but I know it is far more likely that I will simply fall to the ground.
As I was attending a conference in Washington D.C. last weekend, I visited the Postsecret exhibit at the National Postal Museum. I read every secret, and finally, approached the large collection of secrets, bundled into piles upon piles. Tears streamed down my face as I felt the company of others’ struggles. To be in the presence of freed secrets is overwhelming. I thought of the several I have sent in over the years, from ecstatic to hopeless.
Surprisingly, it was also healing. I left the exhibit focusing a degree of the empathy that I felt for the secret senders on myself. I thought about what I would say to someone who shared my secret, what I would hope for her, and what I might tell her if I knew her. In short, I feel as though I can confront my problems more objectively, and with less fear and isolation than I have in the past.
I don’t know what will happen after graduation, but — like my secrets bound together with others’ — I think I’ll be in good company.
I have been collecting the books since 2004, and my mother would buy me a new book almost every Christmas. I just want you to know that last year I drove four hours from New Hampshire to New York to see the PostSecret Show live and drive home. The live show was such a great experience. I can not even begin to explain how much the show touched me. My love for PostSecret has continued to grow, I had the PostSecret Smithsonian display on my bucket list, and with the recent realization that it would be gone after December, I hopped in my car and drove the 7 hours from NH to DC to see the display and I drove home! I have now knocked that off of my bucket list. Thank you for creating such a beautiful outlet for people!
Sent from my iPhone
For me – Ashley – the impact of the night did not feel real until the following day. Every moment of the proposal whisked by in a whirlwind of emotions of love and hugs and kisses. From the moment I realized the postcard clues were about me until I walked off stage, the overall experience was inexplicably surreal; like in movies or books where the main character says “pinch me to see if I’m dreaming.” It wasn’t until Stephan and Iwere alone after the Post Secret event that were able to digest the night’s events. Amidst all the mix of emotions from the people around us, the one thing I felt for certain throughout the night was love; love from my fiancé, from my family, and from people who were genuinely happy for us.
If we are being completely honest, we felt like “rock stars” during the nights festivities. People swarmed to us to wish us well, and inquire about every step in the planning process. With complete strangers, we were able to relive and share our journey in love thus far; from the moment we met at work through the five and a half years that had strengthened our love. We are both very low-key individuals, so to have the spotlight on us for a couple of hours was a new experience. Throughout the night, we had family members send us their congratulatory notes and overall it was a completely humbling and unforgettable experience.
The proposal, for both of us, was nothing short of magic. It was everything we could have asked for and more. Yet, despite night’s events, it wasn’t until we were both back in the hotel room curled up on the bed that we really felt like ourselves. The attached picture with the signed page by Frank was our first snapshot, and it is one that perfectly captures the night’s sentiments. For as long as we both live, there is simply no way for us to ever thank all the members involved enough. You all have made us happy a thousand times over, and it is something we will never forget.