CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- We all have regrets, things we would have done differently if given the chance. A love interest we would have pursued, something we would have said, a person we should have defended.
In August 2007, Cedar Falls resident and University of Northern Iowa graduate Kevin Hansen launched SecretRegrets.com as a sort of experiment. The site is a place for people to anonymously post their deepest regrets.
"I had seen other sites that featured confessions and secrets, but none really dealing with regret or remorse," Hansen said. "It's incredible what people will put online."
Hansen was amazed at the response. To date, the site has received more than half a million hits, with more than 10,000 regrets posted.
In response to fans asking him to compile a collection of the most shocking, heartbreaking and inspiring posts, Hansen decided to gather them for publication in a book. "Secret Regrets: What if you had a Second Chance?" is a compilation of hundreds of posts from the site and was published in July.
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The book recently became a No. 1 Amazon bestselling Kindle book in the interpersonal relations, counseling and crisis management category and No. 3 in the motivational category.
Hansen, originally from Evansdale and a Waterloo East High School graduate, studied marketing and business at UNI. He also took some psychology courses.
"That's probably what led me to the Secret Regrets project," Hansen said. "I became very interested in human behavior.
"I think there is something about the act of typing it in and pushing that 'send' button that is freeing for people," he said.
Topics include lost love, infidelity, sexual orientation, bullying, even suicide. And while the subject matter may be dark, Hansen says that is balanced by the support and compassion often shown by people responding to the posts.
"It's become a global support community," he said. "Strangers helping strangers."
Hansen tends to the site each day, posting the Secret Regret of the Day and reading and archiving posts and responses.
"It can be emotionally exhausting," Hansen said. "There is no way to sugar coat it. It's heavy stuff people are dealing with. I just have to remember that this is possibly the first step to them getting better."
"Secret Regrets" is available for sale at University Book & Supply in Cedar Falls, the Hawkeye Bookstore at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo and at Amazon.com.