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BU Secrets Revealed Anonymously

Now on view across campus


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In the slideshow above, view some of the postcards students submitted for the second annual BU Secret. Photos by Leslie Friday

Students stop and stare, mesmerized, at a third floor wall in Warren Towers. They read silently, the only sound the beeping of ID cards being swiped at the nearby guard station. What has caught their attention are dozens of secrets, written on postcards, pasted to the wall.

“It’s kind of like you can’t look away,” says Charlie Cox (GRS’12).

About 300 students participated in the second annual BU Secret, organized by Active Minds at Boston University, a student organization that advocates for mental health awareness. The event is a twist on Frank Warren’s PostSecret phenomenon and invites students to share a secret anonymously—and creatively—on postcards.

“It’s great because it brings the University community together and raises mental health awareness on campus,” says Andrea Bengtson, a clinical coordinator for services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Active Minds advisor. “Students who might be feeling isolated can see that maybe they’re not the only one.”

This year’s secrets run the gamut, from silly and quirky to confessional and heartbreaking—some even alarming:

“Sometimes I stand extra close to people so I can appreciate their shampoo.”

“My biggest fear is that I’ll be alone.”

“It scares me how violent I can get. My anger gets out of control sometimes.”

Active Minds received 300 postcards this year, compared to the 800 collected last year. Bengtson attributes the lower turnout to timing—this year’s event was advertised before spring break, whereas last year’s was touted after break.

The combined 1,100 cards are on display for the next two weeks in Sleeper Hall, the FitRec Center, Warren Towers, the George Sherman Union, and at 518 Park Drive, on South Campus. Active Minds members and advisors reviewed postcards before putting them on display, and only two were excluded this year, Bengtson says, and that was because they identified individuals.

Standing before the Sleeper Hall display, Jaquelyn Fabian (CAS’13, CFA’13) says she often reads Warren’s PostSecret blog, which is updated every Sunday, and that the Active Minds spin-off is a good opportunity “to vent everything you need to get out.”

Yet, after reading some of the more wrenching postcards at Warren Towers, Caterina Anger (CAS’14) thinks some of the writers need more than a space to vent.

“Someone like that needs to speak with someone,” Anger says.

Those interested in seeking free, confidential mental health counseling can contact Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine, the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and the Samaritans of Boston suicide hotline.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.


3 Comments on BU Secrets Revealed Anonymously

  • Anonymous on 04.06.2011 at 8:40 am


    It is a shame that this effort wasn’t extended to the medical campus. I feel that many of us here have a deep secret that either eats away at them or motivates them greatly.

  • Anonymous on 04.06.2011 at 11:07 am

    I posted one

    It made me feel like I could face the reality of my situation….except I sort of just ended up trying to forget about it….

    It wasn’t a terrible solution….it was just made me more focused on things that weren’t self-deprecating.

  • Anonymous on 04.07.2011 at 4:43 pm

    Caterina Anger said that “Someone like that needs to speak with someone.” I 100% disagree with that statement. Everybody has fucked up thoughts. Just because some people are willing to vent them publicly doesn’t mean they need help. It means they are a little more comfortable with their thoughts than you are. Unless of course everything you think about is unicorns and rainbows. Life’s a little more pessimistic than you think.

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