I live in a bubble. And guess what: you live in a bubble too. We all live in our own individual bubbles, floating through life until something sharp pops it and forces us to reexamine our path. The bubble is comprised of familiar settings and everyday routines. It allows us to accomplish the million + 1 things we need to accomplish each day, and it also lets us live comfortably, knowing most of our daily expectations will be met without any surprising obstacles. While this bubble makes us more efficient human beings, it also restricts us from seeing anything outside of our tiny corner of the Earth.
The best way to get a glimpse into another way of life is to chat with someone who lives somewhere else. You can certainly do this on the vast interwebs, (watch out for all those liars out there!), but there’s something magical about finding a pen pal and getting to know someone through the act of sending letters. It’s a slower exchange and while it might not fit in with our current ‘I NEED IT NOW’ attitude towards everything, it actually forces us to remember how to be patient. Here are six reasons why everyone in the world needs a pen pal.
1. Receiving mail is fun.
Remember mail? When I was your age, I’d hike to my mailbox through the snow, uphill….both ways. Not really – just one way, but it was a long hike in the snow to get the mail, so when something arrived with my name on it, the freezing trek was worthwhile! Receiving mail is a treat, and ripping open an envelope (that isn’t a bill), is just as exciting as unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning.
2. You are forced to use words instead of emojis.
I can have entire conversations with my besties using only emojis. That’s a terrible habit to get into, as a writer and just as a person. The right words can change conversations, minds, and lives, and lazily using pictures to describe how you’re feeling is never going to help you in any situation. With a pen pal, even just being able to see their handwriting gives you an indication of who they are and how they feel. Penmanship used to be something we could admire about another person. And I DID NOT spend all that time in elementary school practicing cursive only for it to go to waste.
When you want to spice up your convo, as you normally would using emojis, use stickers or colored pencils or pens. How about the BIC® 4-Color™ pen with red, black, blue, and green ink (4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen!), so you can really express yourself in your letters? (Buy yours now on Amazon or Staples!) Got a raise at work? Celebrate with GREEN. Have a frenemy talking smack? Let it out with RED. Allow the colors to show off your personality. Also, these commercials are just hilarious.
3. You gain a little perspective.
So you had a tough week because of a flat tire? Maybe your pen pal is having a tough week because a loved one just passed away. Maybe their lifestyle is completely different from yours and getting to know them will make you toughen up appreciate what you have, rather than rage-tweeting a spilt latte.
4. You can be you without any judgment.
The world of social media isn’t a window into each other’s real lives. It’s an airbrushed, boastful peek at what each of us considers the coolest/prettiest/most interesting parts of our day. And that’s fine. We absolutely should have a place to collect our #tbt memories and most LOL-worthy moments. Having a pen pal allows you to paint your own picture. You can be honest and raw about what’s making this week a struggle to get through, or share the accomplishments you’re most proud of. You aren’t waiting on a total number of likes, you’re simply waiting for your new friend to offer advice and/or share their current ups and downs as well.
5. You COULD be writing to your soulmate.
I have no idea what the statistic is for married couples who started as pen pals because Google was on a coffee break apparently and couldn’t give me the answer. But who needs stats when you have a charming celeb couple as an example? Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford were childhood pen pals in London and reconnected as adults. Now they’re married and living out the happiest happily ever after celeb love story in history.
You never know what will come of your letters, or who your pen pal will turn out to be. They might just become your future spouse.
6. You’ll definitely make a life-long friend.
Everyone I know who had a childhood pen pal is either still friends with them or has nothing but fond memories of the overall experience. You’re meeting someone new without actually meeting them. You’re getting a glimpse into their world and what makes them tick. You’re also sharing that side of yourself with them. The bond forms as soon as the envelope is torn open and will continue as long as you both are interested in communicating. This is a no-pressure, all-positive friendship pursuit. What more could you ask for?
Images via shutterstock