Sunday Secrets

—email—

Frank,

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.

Thank you.

—email—

Hey Frank,

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

—email—

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.

Last Month to See PostSecret at the Smithsonian

The PostSecret exhibit at the US Postal Museum is closing in December.
Location: Washington, DC
Price: Free
Details: https://goo.gl/FsCmfs

—Email—
Dear Frank,
I’ve been following and reading PostSecret since 2006. I’ve purchased and read the books, I saw you at a PostSecret Live! event in my town, I’ve sent you many of my own secrets, had the iPhone app (for a very short time), followed you on social media and FINALLY made it to the PostSecret exhibit.

I knew I would enjoy the secrets, but I was so surprised at how moved I was. I felt like I could actually feel the secrets. I could see the ridges on the stamps, the wear and tear from the secrets traveling through the mail system, the layers and layers of art, the pen marks from the writing, BOTH sides of the secret and even what appeared to be tears of sadness on one secret. I was so moved by the exhibit because I felt closer than ever to the people sharing their secrets. I am thrilled that this project is still thriving after all these years.

—Email—
Frank-
I went to D.C. last week and the ONLY thing I absolutely had to do was to go and see your exhibit at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. I’ve been reading alongside you since 2005 – fifteen at the time! – and it has been a staple of my Sunday routine since then… A way to mark the beginning of a new week by remembering the humanity in others and by being reminded that I am not alone,
world at its darkest or lightest. I’ve come to your events in western and eastern Kentucky and both have affirmed for me how critical the conversations this project has started is. And I was reminded again at the museum.

I read every single secret and before I left I stopped to look at another panel again. I realized I hadn’t read it as I’d thought! I get to the bottom of the glass panel and I’m dumbstruck. I could swear I wrote this, could swear it’s my handwriting – a sixteen-year-old version of myself reflected in the penmanship.

—Email—
Dear Frank-
The most joyful part of the Smithsonian exhibit for me was reading my postcard, it was like seeing a friend who had passed away. If you would have explained the circumstances of which I’d see the secret again to that 18yr old girl [being in love, having an amazing career, well traveled, college educated,etc.] she would have laughed through her sadness as a complete impossibility. But alas, so many amazing things have happened in that time frame and it gave me renewed hope in myself – the bad times WILL pass. I hope the world continues to hear my voice while the postcard is on display, and furthermore I hope it impacts even one person to know that sadness isn’t forever. Happiness is within your grasp. Thank you Frank-for helping this full circle come to life.

–Email—
Frank-
I went to D.C. last week and the ONLY thing I absolutely had to do was to go and see your exhibit at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. I’ve been reading alongside you since 2005 – fifteen at the time! – and it has been a staple of my Sunday routine since then… A way to mark the beginning of a new week by remembering the humanity in others and by being reminded that I am not alone,
world at its darkest or lightest. I’ve come to your events in western and eastern Kentucky and both have affirmed for me how critical the conversations this project has started is. And I was reminded again at the museum.

I read every single secret and before I left I stopped to look at another panel again. I realized I hadn’t read it as I’d thought! I get to the bottom of the glass panel and I’m dumbstruck. I could swear I wrote this, could swear it’s my handwriting – a sixteen-year-old version of myself reflected in the penmanship.

And well, isn’t that the point of PostSecret?
If there’s any way to know, I would love to know if this is from Kentucky (it was one of the only ones covered on the back by another postcard), but the amazing thing is is that even if it’s not mine, it’s still mine.

I received therapy for the first time around age 17 (the first my family could afford it), but it was only because I was exposed to the idea of asking for help, because I learned that I didn’t have to be alone. We could only manage to pay for a few sessions, but it was a start – and the beginning of a journey in self-care and self-advocacy that has been enduring since.

Learn where the PostSecret exhibition is going next, here.