Sharing Secrets: The Anonymous Student Project

‘Sometimes when we think we are keeping a secret the secret is actually keeping us’

This term Nightline is running its Anonymous Student Project again for the fourth year in a row. The main idea behind the project is to give an insight into the parts of student life that aren’t necessarily spoken about by allowing people to write a secret, thought, confession or any other message on a postcard and drop it off anonymously. As I look back through the postcards of previous years there are a few that particularly jump out. ‘Sometimes I wonder why I bother’ says one, whilst another reads that ‘I worry on a daily basis that I’ll never find true love’. Other messages include ‘I really don’t like getting drunk but I do it because all my friends do’ and ‘I’m gay but I can’t tell my parents.’ These are just a few examples; the topics cover everything from academic worries to relationship problems, housemate grievances to reservations about the future.

The Anonymous Student Project aims to reflect some of our core principles. The act of writing a secret down, something that you may have never told anyone before, and then being able to share it anonymously, is very similar to the service we offer at Nightline. There’s absolutely nothing too big or small, as every postcard, and similarly every caller, is treated with the same respect. They are safe in the knowledge that whatever they choose to share, they won’t be judged or criticised in any way.

The opportunity to share in confidence is incredibly precious but so seldom offered to us. Life gets so busy and stressful, especially at university, that we rarely allow ourselves time to talk about the things that really matter to us. If you’re anything like me then the majority of conversations revolve around comparing essay deadlines, the latest episode of some average TV show or the pros and cons of a Tesco ready meal. I’m often too preoccupied with who used up the last of the milk and didn’t replace it, or whether I can get away with starting that essay the night before, to really give myself time to genuinely listen to others, let alone talk about what’s actually on my mind. People’s undivided attention (aside from my mum and my goldfish) is often hard to come by. That’s not to say the important talk never happens, but the occasions when we truly feel that we can open up to someone are few and far between (and often involve sitting at the kitchen table in the early hours of the morning!).

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