When I was in the fifth grade, my elementary school implemented a pen-pal program. Every classmate was paired up with a person from Staten Island (we all lived in Queens, so Staten Island felt like eons away for us) and we would write one-page letters to our new friends. I remember the joy I felt putting pen to paper and expressing my deepest thoughts to this person I had never met before.
But with the advent of email, messaging apps, and texting, I forgot the art of writing letters until last year, when I decided on a whim to start sending mail to my friends again. While I found letter-writing slow and cumbersome at first, it's taught me a lot about the value of investing time into my friendships. Without further ado, here are the top five reasons to send letters to your friends in the age of technology.
1. To stay close
How often do you have long, intimate conversations with your friends these days? A lot of my friends attend college and live in different states, so it's incredibly difficult to maintain the level of closeness that we shared in high school. Texting is a means of keeping in touch, sure, but it doesn't hold a candle to a handwritten letter detailing your deepest thoughts and feelings.
2. To show you care
You never know when a friend needs a pick-me-up, and a surprise letter might be the perfect thing for it. I get so excited whenever I see an envelope in my mailbox. Even if it's just a short message, I feel so touched that someone cared enough to sit down, write, and pay the 50¢ for a stamp. Getting mail reminds the recipient that they're not alone, which can be priceless if they're having a bad day!
3. To put things into perspective
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by your day-to-day responsibilities that you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Whenever I panic about how busy I am or what I have to do to accomplish future goals, I take a deep breath and start writing a letter. Letter-writing not only serves as a de-stressor, but it also allows you to take a step back and realize that a lot of your current worries aren't worth stressing over. There are more important things than money or fame - and friendship is one of them.
4. To talk about the hard stuff
If you're like me, you find it very difficult to have honest, meaningful conversations over text. I hate seeing the three dots that mean someone's typing, especially if I'm not done describing my viewpoint or feelings. There's also something about texting that delegitimizes what I'm saying, no amount of emojis can fully express how I feel. Writing a letter gives you the chance to not only flesh out your thoughts without being interrupted but also talk about sensitive topics in an eloquent way.
5. To become a better communicator
One of the biggest reasons I returned to letter-writing was because I noticed that using messaging apps hindered my ability to communicate effectively. While texting, I found myself using many filler words and generally not putting much effort into expressing my feelings in a clear and concise way. Writing a letter, on the other hand, made me more conscious of my language and was an informal way of improving my ability to talk to others.