I feel like I’m about to come out of a closet. Wondering if my friends and family will still love me and think I’m the same person I was before…Here goes. I have penpals. I’ve always had penpals and I love writing (and receiving) handwritten letters. There, I said it. I own it! And I think it’s awesome.
I started writing to a girl named Carla in Albania when I was in middle school and we sent trinkets back and forth for years. I’ve written to people on cancer support lists (Olive has always been my favorite – an 87 year old cancer survivor and sassy amazing lady perfect for a teenage girl.), and have even gone to the internet to find pals (ironic, eh?). I have made some amazing friends and gotten to travel across the globe (Hi Carrie! Australia was awesome!) thanks to my ‘dorky’ hobby. I was even in a penpal’s wedding – we met for the first time when she picked me up at the airport 3 days before the Big Day! (The picture of Claire from England, her awesome sister Helen and I are still on my fridge.) I haven’t stayed in touch with everyone I ever wrote to, and you don’t always ‘click,’ but each connection is an amazing opportunity to meet someone the old fashioned way and to learn a little about them, their culture and the fun idiosyncrasies and unique way they view the world. You might even get some great recipes and book recommendations, or discover a hip new band along the way!
Interested in getting started? Check out penpalworld.com – a free site where you can make a profile and search through to find someone you might hit it off with! (Fun fact: I met both Claire and Carrie on the site within days of each other when I first moved to Alaska almost 9 years ago!) You can also check out the Letter Writers Alliance where they have all sorts of cool gadgets to mail and stickers and stamps to make your letters and envelopes stand out, and penpals for paid members (it’s $5 and totally worth it), and an up to date blog on cool mail happenings.
We are so interconnected with all of our gadgets these days that we forget how to actually interact and listen. How to ask questions and really tell someone about ourselves, and ask (and care!) about another person. So what do you say? Get out there. Make a friend. You (and your friend) will absolutely be the better for it.