Last summer I promised my high school friends that I would send them letters once the school year started. Now I should say, this was not something any of them had requested, and most of them had never indicated a desire to be pen pals. One friend even told me that while she would love to receive a letter, she knew herself well enough to say that she would probably forget to respond.
Still, I had around four friends who were pretty enthusiastic about sending letters back and forth. I was thrilled to hear that some of them were down to write letters. However, like most things in my life, I romanticized this idea of us all writing letters. In my mind, I would send weekly letters, updating my friends on everything I had done that week. I would be writing on cute stationery. My notes would include cute stickers and little doodles, and my handwriting would miraculously improve until it resembled picturesque Pinterest handwriting.
But then like most of my brilliant ideas, my plan to write letters slipped away. It got lost between the chaos of moving in and mounting schoolwork. I rationalized it in my mind. I told myself that I did not have enough time to get stationery, so what was the point of writing letters until they could look exactly like I had envisioned them?
I told myself I would wait until things settled down, but soon days turned into weeks. I could not for the life of me get myself to write letters.
Then I finally decided to do it. Something switched within me. Maybe I finally felt like I had enough to tell my friends. A few weeks ago, I sent my first letter. I wrote to her while I was sitting in one of those green chairs in Milstein. It felt so cathartic to be able to get all my thoughts and feelings out on the paper. I didn’t have cute stationery, and I just used a legal pad that I had lying around. But I felt so good after I finished writing. I think part of what made writing this letter so calming was the ability to get my thoughts out, but I also felt closer to my friend, knowing she would read this.
I have written about four letters since then to my other friends. I have noticed that I usually write letters when I am stressed about school. I find it soothing for myself, but I also feel like I am strengthening and maintaining my high school relationships.
Okay, so you might be wondering why exactly I would want to write letters in 2021 when we are in the era of instant communication. We have Instagram, Whatsapp, FaceTime, and good old texting. There is nothing wrong with these mediums. I FaceTime my friends pretty much every week, but it’s easy to get caught up in the surface-level details of your life. Sometimes it is easier to have that distance that a letter provides. You can be more honest and say exactly what you mean.
Even though writing letters might not be super popular in this day and age, I think it might be making a comeback. Thanks to COVID, we have spent over a year pretty much only interacting online, so it is exciting to do something not online. In a year of isolation and virtual everything, writing letters offers a tangible sense of connection. We can look back on these letters years from now.
If you’re feeling a little disconnected from your loved ones, consider sending them a letter. I’m sure they will be so excited when they get your snail mail. The only thing better than writing a letter is receiving one.