It's no secret that handwritten letters and cards are not sent and received nearly as much as they were decades ago. Email, instant messaging, and texting have redefined how we communicate. Add social media into the mix and it seems we're always one click away from our friends and family, making it easy to keep in touch. But are we really that "in touch" with the lives of the people we care about? When asked how someone is doing, I'm guilty of responding with, "Well I saw on Facebook that they are . . ." Can you relate?
A few years ago, a friend of mine from high school and college moved away. I really wanted to keep in close contact with her, so I asked if she would like to be pen pals. Being a writer and an English major, she enthusiastically agreed. After a while, life got busy as it so often does and we stopped writing each other. I still have all her letters saved, though.
Last year, I felt the urge to start writing letters again and I asked another friend from college if she would like to become pen pals. She and I started writing back and forth. Although, she hasn't written back in a few weeks, so if you're reading this, Ashley, get out your pen and paper! :)
What I love most about letter-writing is how intimate it is. I feel as though I get to know the other person so much more than I would simply by reading their Facebook posts or even talking to them in person! The act of letter-writing tends to open us up and make us feel safe to share more of ourselves. When talking face-to-face there are so many variables that keep us from opening up sometimes: fear of judgement, time-constraints, distractions, etc. When writing a letter, though, there's more time to sort out your thoughts and there's a comfort in knowing you won't be immediately judged by anything you share. The private aspect of having a pen pal bonds the writers together with this secret they share.
I find it interesting that we love to receive mail, but we aren't sending much of it. There are countless subscription boxes out there to ensure we get that thrill of a new package, but it's a very one-sided thrill. I want to challenge you to pick one person that you'd like to get to know better or keep in touch with and reach out to them as a pen pal. It could even be someone who lives in your town! After sending a couple letters back and forth, I'm willing to bet you'll feel a closer connection to them.
And hey, it's just another reason to go shopping for some adorable stationary! If you're not sure where to start, I found this great infographic from Peachtree Playthings to help get you started. Happy writing!