As a lefty, living in a world designed for right handed people I face some challenges some people may not be aware of. These include: being a horrible can opener, practically unable to use normal scissors, constantly rubbing elbows with my neighbor at the dinner table and the worst of all…the struggle of writing.
As a child, learning how to write the opposite of everyone else could be a bit confusing. I held my pencil different, I could never see what I was writing and the side of my hand was constantly covered in ink or lead (also known as Silver Surfer Syndrome). However, my wonderful mother foresaw some of these challenges and spent countless afternoons with me – helping me with my letters and ensuring that I would have legible handwriting. (Thanks mom!!)
You can imagine how happy I was after coming to college and having the option to take notes on my laptop in class. It seriously changed the game. However, as a huge proponent of snail mail, my pen and paper certainly hasn’t become extinct yet.
Some may argue that physical mail will be irrelevant in the future, and while it has become less popular in the last decade, it’s not dead yet. There are many contributing factors to my passion for writing letters and notes of all kind, but I believe the most compelling is the thought behind the act.
Think about this, on average the typical American adult sends 85+ text per day. The average American teen sends over 130 texts per day. I too, am guilty as charged.
How often do we forget to answer texts that we read? Put off communicating with people because we think it’s a hassle? Ignore all of those group chats? Answer: all of the time. In reality, it’s never been easier to reach people before.
The beauty of snail mail is that it forces one to be thoughtful about their communication.
Yes, you can spend countless hours agonizing over that text to your crush or proof-reading that important email. But, most likely you quickly answer your texts and emails with little thought, replying so that annoying notification goes away.
To write a letter you have to physically slow down. You have to care enough to record someone’s address, spend $10 on a book of stamps and walk out of your home to mail it. Putting pen to paper makes you think a little more about what you’re saying and why. It drives intentionality that I believe digital communication lacks.
I can guarantee all of those meaningful texts that made you tear up or give you butterflies will be forgotten – eventually they’ll disappear when you need more storage on your devices. That’s the magic of a letter – it shows up unannounced in your mailbox, and if you choose to save it, it’ll show up again and again, bringing you back to that very moment in time and the feelings attached to it.
One day when I’m gone and my digital footprint is long forgotten, I want my grandkids and other loved ones to read about my life. Not from other’s perspectives, but from my point of view, in my own handwriting. I want them to physically hold pieces of paper that hold the intimate details of my life – whether it be from my personal journals, capturing my thoughts on everyday life, or the love letters I hope to write one day to my future husband. I want them to read words that took time – that demanded self reflection and thoughtfulness.
I aspire to fill the mailboxes of those I care about with words that truly mean something. 26 letters, that when combined properly, can express gratitude, humor and love – and when branded with someone’s unique writing, evoke a deep personal connection.
Seriously, start saving the notes that show up in your mailbox and take the extra 10 minutes to share the love with those around you. If you need a pen pal or a place to start, let me know!