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SFU Confessions brings us together in anonymity

When I find myself in times of trouble, SFU Confessions is there for me

“Here’s a confession for you: I definitely follow the SFU Confessions page more closely than I follow the UBC one. Ours is kinda lame.”

These are the words of a friend who goes to UBC and also follows the SFU Confessions page religiously. If you’re not aware of what it is, SFU Confessions is a Facebook community page run by an anonymous administrator that allows all SFU students to post their crazy transit stories, lament over how a class screwed them over, and tell wholesome, Nicholas Sparks-esque love stories.

Beyond that, there is drama, comedy, intrigue, and thoughts from all ends of the political spectrum. Having followed the page ever since I started at SFU three years ago, I’ve witnessed many courageous stories come forward, and watched the community come together in support of the confessor.

I’ve always been fascinated with how this concept has amassed a following of roughly 24,000 SFU and non-SFU students alike. To be able to come out and tell all these strangers the issues you might be going through, even though you are anonymous, is a big deal.

During my time at SFU, I found myself in this digital confessional many times: a blank message box blinking back at me, waiting for me to confess my darkest desires. My very first confession was to openly, albeit anonymously, say that I was depressed and that I wanted to commit suicide.

Of all the many people and institutions I could have turned to, I decided to turn to a faceless entity and broadcast my troubles and self-worth to hundreds of strangers.

Though I was scared to death that someone would expose me, my message vanished with no questions asked, and a day later it appeared on the page. But as hours and days passed, many people put up messages of support, linked me to resources, and even invited me  — a complete stranger — to message them in future times of distress.

I see posts similar to mine every so often, and my heart breaks a little each time I see them. But that all melts away when I see the respect and kindness that goes into some of the comments that follow. I also try to be someone whom those in need of someone can access at any time — the same way that many others offered their support to me.

This diverse community is able to come together and offer simple words of encouragement to those who may have no one else to turn to. If I hadn’t posted my own confession, I probably wouldn’t be able to speak and write so openly about mental illness in the way that I do now.

There definitely are times where our differences cry far louder than the similarities, but I believe that there truly is a comforting sense of community present on this page. Yes, we are all different and unique, but in times of heartbreak and suffering, the anonymity suddenly makes us more alike than we realize. There are people who are here for you if you are going through a hard time — even if you don’t know them yet.

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