PostSecret gets its message out
With over 170 secrets submitted, Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling and Resource Center’s PostSecret event aimed to allow students to express their innermost thoughts and feelings through anonymous postcards.
The Monday night event held as part of Mental Health Awareness Week had a large turnout and positive responses from students.
At the event, all of the secrets were displayed for students’ viewing and reflection.
“I submitted a card, and it was scary, but the act of writing everything down was liberating, and it was amazing not just to get it out but that other people wrote the same thing I did,” freshman Shana Zucker said.
PostSecret is a national initiative that anonymously collects people’s secrets in the form of postcards and then puts them online, in books or in museum exhibits for others to see. Founded by Frank Warren in January 2005, the organization has since received over 500,000 secrets.
The first PostSecret event at Washington University was held during last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
“We wanted to establish [PostSecret] at Wash. U. for people to tell secrets they haven’t before. I think it gives people space to think about their secrets and reflect,” senior Robert Kim, co-director of Uncle Joe’s, said. “A lot of students don’t have time when life is so busy, so this gave them time to do that.”
This year students were given a longer period of time to submit their secrets, and Uncle Joe’s reported getting around 70 more secrets than last year.
The secrets varied widely from positive to serious to confessional. One postcard read, “I struggle believing that I am worthy” while another stated, “I truly, honestly love my life.”
Both students organizing and attending the event felt that it was an important step toward raising awareness about mental health and other struggles that students face.
“It gets it out of your head,” Uncle Joe’s member and sophomore Madison Pomerantz said. “People say, ‘Wow, this person feels the same way.’ It’s validating.”
Several members of WU-SLam also performed at the event. The poems were geared toward confessions through poetry, keeping with the theme of getting secrets or struggles out into the open.
A poem by senior Jacqui Germain, WU-SLam’s vice-president of Human Resources, spoke about the humanness of mental illness by discussing the mental breakdown of Jason Russell, the creator of the Kony 2012 campaign.
Seniors Meredith Irvin and Gabriel Cralley and freshmen Karisa Tavassoli and Emily Alves also performed.
“I think that people showing up and submitting cards shows that people care,” Kim said. “It gives people opportunity, and that changes things.”