I did exactly what everyone does with a secret, I kept it; all of it, and never told a soul. I was like a balloon holding more helium than I rightfully should — a balloon ready to burst. I wanted to tell my secrets to someone to help release just a little pressure of the secrets against the inside of my skin, but I had no one. Growing up in such a small community made it difficult to tell my secrets, only because I knew it was difficult for others to keep them. As I grew older, I decided it was best to try and hide my own secrets from myself as well as others, believing this would allow me to live my life. It wasn’t a good life. I was afraid — afraid of what people would say about me, what my family would think, and what my friends would do.
It wasn’t until the second quarter of my junior year in high school that I came across PostSecret. PostSecret is a community art project which was then made into a book. On each page, a homemade postcard which holds an anonymous secret of the sender is displayed. As I read the secrets these strangers I became inspired and overwhelmed by the bravery of each and every person who posted their secret for the world to see. The secrets that I saw artfully displayed on postcards were not just silent desires; they were memories, regrets, betrayals, fidelities and bad decisions never told to anyone. Reading the secrets of these strangers from all over the world makes me feel less like an outcast and more like someone who belongs. I feel connected to all those strangers and if I could, I would hug every single one of them, regardless of how much my arms would protest in pain from all that hugging. I know if I had the chance, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Nobody knows how much they mean to me until now.
With my brand new courage gained from these strangers, I realized it was my obligation to send in my secrets because I believe someone can experience the same euphoria I felt when I read those secrets. I want my secrets to help others become more courageous. With my secrets, I feel I could move mountains.
When I arrived to the post office with my deepest and darkest secrets in one hand and my letter to the author in the other, I became perfectly still. I noticed I wasn’t alone at the post office. An ocean of people — many with familiar faces — was scurrying by everywhere in all different directions and even though I knew they weren’t looking at me, I stood still. I couldn’t complete the simple task of sliding my secrets into the slot of the outbox. A giant cloud of hysteria grew in my mind and I started to feel dizzy. Although people obviously weren’t staring, I couldn’t wipe the self-conscious expression off my face. I ran back to my mother’s car like the coward I was. I could feel the bravery that once empowered me leak through the air out from the soles of my shoes with every step I took towards the car.
I slid into the back and pulled the PostSecret book out of my messenger bag. I flipped through the pages that I had tabbed with tiny blue post-it notes which marked the place of the most inspiring post cards. I quickly scanned the postcards in a bleak attempt to help empower myself. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I felt suffocated in a stainless steel vault of my own design. I knew the key to my mental vault was vaporous and had betrayed me just like the bravery that empowered me before – it left me when I needed it most. Once again I felt alone. I was a little relieved that my mom didn’t return to the car from the post office counter so she couldn’t see me in such a fragile state. I dropped my head, my eyes tightly shut, and struggled to take in the oxygen I desperately needed. As my heart’s beating returned to a steady pace, my eyelids slowly lifted from the bottom of my now moistened eyes. I saw the book snugly placed on my lap, laid out in front of me to a page I didn’t remember seeing. I silently read the page to myself. “Sometimes just the act of sharing a painful secret can relieve some of the pain.” I pulled myself together and ran out of the car to my original position next the outbox. I had to do it, not just for those strangers, but for myself. I had to help myself release the pressure, the incessant silent pain, and deflate the balloon uncomfortably tied to my shoulders. I swiftly let all 6 post cards roll off my fingers and down the slot. It wasn’t until later that night that I felt the balloon float away. I couldn’t believe that by just mailing postcards, I would feel lighter. As I lay in bed, I felt like a cloud filled with the condensed water, waiting to release a gentle rain over a wilting flower.
PostSecret is more than just a book filled with beautiful pictures and words, it has become a healing process – not just for me, but for everyone it touches. I haven’t realized until I mailed my own secrets that sharing them with someone could help alleviate my pain. I am not completely healed, but I know that a full recovery is near. Because of PostSecret, I now feel entirely free. Now I truly believe in the healing concept and idea of PostSecret.
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