As you get older, the thrill of running to the mailbox to see if you got a letter from Grandma evaporates. Now, you slowly stroll down to the end of your driveway and open the mailbox only to retrieve a handful of bills in your name – lucky you. What's the fun tearing open an envelope if it's just a piece of paper asking you for money? Since most people don't receive anything in the mail anymore, it's time to reclaim the pleasure from another era.
Whether it's from your best friend who lives down the street or from someone in another country who you met on a family cruise years ago, corresponding with a pen pal can be your sweet escape from the real world. There is something wonderful about sharing your life with someone and learning more about theirs without having too much of a commitment.
Oftentimes, elementary school teachers will pair their students up with a pal overseas to promote culture and diversity. Notes are exchanged back and forth – hitting on all the basics like the kids' favorite movies, hobbies, colors and pets' names – but they slowly begin to fade after the first handful of letters are signed, sealed and delivered.
Reasons to have a pen pal
It's time to put a pen in your hand again. Here are eight reasons to have a pen pal (no matter your age!):
- It's a cheap hobby that doesn't require expensive equipment or take up a huge chunk of your time. All you need is your personalized stationery, a pen, stamps and at least 10 minutes of your time. Plus, this is a great way to talk about yourself and brag about your accomplishments!
- Having a pen pal presents you with the perfect opportunity to boost your communication skills. With technology these days, most people are used to hiding behind their virtual screen and relying too much on autocorrect functions. Practice the cursive you learned in grade school and freshen up those spelling skills without falling back on an automated system to correct it for you.
- As technology continues to advance, so will its speed. Not everything needs to be as instantaneous as receiving a text message. It's perfectly OK to take some time to think and respond at your leisure. You probably find yourself staring at your phone or email inbox anxiously waiting for someone to respond – this isn't healthy! Taking the time to actually write a letter by hand teaches patience, seeing as you're waiting to receive one back.
- Even if you're not a huge fan of it, writing is one of the best ways to relieve some stress. Instead of jotting your internal thoughts down in a journal, write a friend instead. Your pen pal may be able to offer insight if you're having a problem at home or at work.
- Having a pen pal will help boost your creativity and keep you busy. In addition to a card, think of other things you can send them as well, like a souvenir from a trip abroad or a scarf you knitted yourself.
- It's educational: Your constant flow of letters provides you new information each time you unseal that envelope. It's a way to learn about things that aren't typically part of your world – a new language, new cooking recipes, government, politics, pop culture, etc.
- If you ever find yourself with wanderlust, you'll be able to travel to a different country and not have to spend money on a hotel. Your pen pal can provide you a place to stay as you explore all that the country has to offer. A bonus: He or she will make for a great tour guide as well!
- If you keep it up, you'll always have a confidant – someone to whom you can reach out. Everyone has things they need to get off their chest once in a while – whether it's work-related stress, your roommate letting the dishes pile up or your spouse forgetting your anniversary, your pen pal will always keep your secrets safe.