Trigger warning: Dissociation
Writing is fun!
It’s one thing to send a text message or make a post on social media, but to hand write a physical letter is a wonderful experience that can’t be paralleled. In my experience, writing helps to center my thoughts and allows me to focus on the present moment. Even if I’m worried about work or personal issues, sitting down with a pen and some pretty stationary helps to alleviate stress.
Make a new friend!
I have a hard time making friends. I have a lot of social anxiety and low self-esteem that manifests in the false notion that I’m not worth being friends with. But reaching out to a new pen pal allows me the opportunity to make a new friend! Who doesn’t want that? Even if somebody stops writing, I don’t take it personally since they’re probably just busy and not in a position where they can write a letter.
Unleash your creativity!
Decorating a pen pal letter gives me the chance to let my creativity out! I have tons of stickers, gel pens, and cute stationary to share and it makes me happy to imagine somebody opening up the envelope to see how much care I put in to designing their letter.
Something to look forward to
When I started pen paling, I was not in a great headspace. I was in my junior year of college and felt constant anxiety about what I was going to do with my life. Writing letters was a way to escape the negativity of my own thoughts and hear about somebody else’s life. It gave me something to look forward to at a time when I felt hopeless. Pen pal letters are also great for dissociation. I used to carry around a letter in my backpack as a reminder to myself that I existed.
“It’s nice to know that somebody out there cares about you.”
Travel the world without leaving the house!
Sometimes it can feel like the world is so small. We live in the same places, walk the same paths and see the same people most days. Having a pen pal allows me the chance to talk with somebody from across the country in a town I’ve never lived in and to learn about experiences I’ll never know. Pen paling is a reminder that the world is big and filled with fascinating people who all have stories to share.
A place to talk openly
I’m not saying that a pen pal is a stand-in for a therapist or a counselor, but they can be a valuable resource for discussing mental health struggles. For instance, I had a really tough breakup last year. I talked to my friends and therapist about it, but one of my pen pals offered me such kindness and wisdom that I wouldn’t have gotten from anybody else. Pen pals are wonderful people to get real with.
Is there anything more fun than waiting for a new letter? Of hearing the mail carrier walk to your door and thinking, ‘I hope I got a letter!’
So, have I convinced you to get a pen pal yet? If so, here’s an organization that specializes in matching people up with pen pals. There’s also a fantastic pen pal project currently going on in the Is This Adulting? Best Friends Facebook group. Check it out! Somebody out there would love to get your letter! 💌
A few words about me
Sara is a recent college graduate from New York. When she’s not writing pen pal letters, she’s listening to podcasts or working at her Web Designer job.