I always have relied on the beauty of letter writing as an art form to communicate with the people I love and care about. Since I was a child, I kept diary entries, took detailed notes in school, and never, ever forgot to send a postcard to at least four of my friends while on vacations. I always carried around a journal, filling it with stories, poems, and one of my personal favorites: letters. Growing up, letter writing was always a key part of my education. We wrote letters to the veterans on November 11th and thank you cards to guest speakers who visited our schools. Contrary to what some of my classmates believed, I never viewed letter writing as a chore. The concept of letter writing is an unparalleled personal experience both for the recipient and writer that can bring a vessel of reassurance and hope during the most difficult of times.
At my college, there is a required First Year Seminar (FYS), that all incoming students must take. For mine, I chose to take a class, "The Psychology and Art of Letter Writing." We analyzed letters throughout the course of history, ranging from World War I soldiers in combat writing to their families at home, prisoners at concentration camps during the Holocaust, and words exchanged between refugees and immigrants in search of better lives. These different exchanges symbolize bravery, strength, and everlasting messages of hope that allow for readers to widen their perspective and learn more about their experiences. While letter writing is often dismissed as being outdated in this digital age, the power of a pen and piece of paper is timeless.
When you sit down to write a letter, you are taking time out of your day to make someone else's a little brighter. You are sending them your own personal chapter of your day-to-day life, and sharing it with someone that you love. Letters let people know that you are thinking of them and provide a unique sense of raw emotion and vulnerability. I have plenty of notebooks, stationery collections, and yes, have even had penpals before. Call me old fashioned, but the truth is, I've never been much of a texter. The reliance that our society continues to have on the rapidly evolving media landscape can be overwhelming and oftentimes, seemingly difficult to escape. I'm not saying that I don't love a good FaceTime call here and there, but letter writing is a much more intimate and special experience that cannot be compared to seeing someone's face over a screen.
Today, more than ever, we crave human connection as we battle the loneliness and anxiety of the chaos that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolated in our homes, the simplest conversations that we once seemed to take for granted are now what we value most with each passing day. But just because our lives have been abruptly interrupted, does not mean we will stop living. Adjusting to the shocking "new normal" is stress-inducing and unknown, this will not last forever. Even amongst all of the uncertainty, we'll always have friendships, love, and luckily, postal service. So the next time you want to reach out to a friend, consider substituting your Snapchats for stamps!
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