5Q :: New book exposes complete strangers’ ‘Secret Regrets’You don’t know Kevin Hansen, but he wants to know your deepest, darkest secrets. Chances are, you'll tell him.
You don’t know Kevin Hansen, but he wants to know your deepest, darkest secrets.
And you know what? People share them with him. No questions asked.
Hansen is the founder of the fascinating website SecretRegrets.com, where people can do exactly what I just described: share with total strangers something they’ve kept in the dark recesses of their memory for years or decades.
The University of Northern Iowa-educated Hansen isn’t some sick voyeur, however. His favorite regrets are the ones that can be flipped into something positive. (At least on one occasion visitors to the site talked one poster out of killing herself.)
Hansen recently collected some of the site’s most memorable “shares” and put out a book — the aptly titled “Secret Regrets” — and he was kind enough to talk to the Budgeteer about the project:
Budgeteer: First of all, what prompted you to put together this book/website?
Hansen: The Secret Regrets website and “Secret Regrets” book came to be a few years back when I started noticing the shocking things people were comfortable revealing on the Web.
Blogs, chats and websites were popping up that featured confessions and secrets.
And although a lot of these were very eye-opening, there really weren’t any that zeroed in and focused specifically on regret or remorse, or directed the hurting toward healing. You would see a lot of things like “I’m cheating on my spouse” — but stated in a boastful kind of way.
So I decided to come up with a website that focused specifically on regrets, a tool that gave people an outlet to acknowledge the one thing that they would change if they had a second chance — the biggest regret of their life.
And what happened next was amazing: Complete strangers would leave comments of support, understanding and advice.
Comments that let people know that they were not alone in what they were facing.
I’m sure you get this all the time, but ... what’s one of your top regrets?
I regret waiting. Waiting as long as I did to pursue a dream of mine. Because once I did, the world changed for me, and for thousands of people I’ve never met.
Creating the Secret Regrets website and book has allowed me to help thousands of people to not only acknowledge the biggest regret of their lives, but it’s also helped many of them to take the first step in putting the past behind them so they can embrace an amazing future.
How would you categorize most of the submissions?
The regrets submitted to www.secretregrets.com include everything from the expected to the unimaginable.
There’s the junior high student who regrets allowing her gym teacher to seduce her into an inappropriate relationship.
The World Trade Center worker who regrets going to work on Sept. 11, 2001.
The wife who regrets having a retaliation affair after she learns of her husband’s infidelity.
The guilt-ridden mother who regrets putting her career before spending time with her children.
If you can imagine it, people have posted it on SecretRegrets.com.
That being said, the most common regrets I get are about relationships: “I regret letting ‘the one’ get away,” “I regret marrying the wrong person,” “I regret not trying harder to be a better daughter” and so on.
Or not being able to say or do something before someone passes away and it’s too late.
Did you have help sifting through all the submissions to get the best ones for the book? And roughly how long did that process take?
Over the past three years, I personally read through all 10,000-plus regrets submitted on the Secret Regrets website and handpicked several hundred of the most shocking, heartbreaking and inspiring selections to include in the “Secret Regrets” book.
I chose some regrets that were common, which told me that many people were struggling with the same kinds of issues.
And I chose others that were so shocking, and so unbelievable, that you had to read twice to make sure you read it correct the first time!
Others were selected because of the incredible comments left, giving hope, support and inspiration to those who were truly hurting and felt that things could never get better.
I also included several amazing follow-up stories from people who originally posted the regrets, sharing how the experience changed lives — and even saved lives.
Finally, what’s next for you? Do you have any other interesting projects floating around?
I really owe it to my fans and followers to continue with the Secret Regrets project. I hear from so many people how “addicted” they are to reading the individual secret regrets.
They just have to keep reading them. They just can’t get enough!
That’s why the “Secret Regrets, Vol. 2” book is already in the works. With more than 10,000 regrets submitted — and more coming in daily — there are a lot of stories left to tell, and a lot of people left to help.
NEWS TO USE
Learn more about Cedar Falls, Iowa, author Kevin Hansen’s book and project at www.secretregrets.com.