Growing up, my world was very small. Socially and physically. I wasn’t allowed outside without supervision, and couldn’t sleep over at any friends‘ house. (In fact, my first sleepover wasn’t until college!) It was only school, whatever after school program was offered, the library (on weekends), and home. Suffice to say, I was pretty sheltered and only knew people around my hometown.
I never thought I would know people from other parts of the world.
Cue the internet. Cue social media.
During my second year of college, around 2011, I stumbled across (ok scrolled across) a post on Tumblr that jumped out at me. It was a penpal ad from a Tumblr user. Who it was I cannot recall anymore, but the very fact that there was someone else out in the world who wanted to write to someone, via pen and paper, was intriguing. I wondered if there were others, and sure enough, after clicking on a few tags, I found a good amount of ads.
So I responded to a few, received responses (only to a few of my own), and little did I know, fell into a new hobby called snailmailing. Now, in 2018, I correspond with people in the states, and all over the world. I honestly never imagined this would be possible, and it is.
My world has grown since I was a child, and by writing to people I’ve met online, it’s only grown more. Not only this, it served as a great therapy for when I was sad, depressed, or sick. It helped knowing that there were people I could write to, even though I was alone during my day-to-day life.
Being able to confide in someone, and receive an outsider’s opinion, helped tremendously. As someone who does have a spark of social anxiety, writing to another person is much more easy and liberating than speaking to someone face to face. There are fewer walls, and fewer fears of rejection. (Of course, not hearing back from someone does hurt, but not as much as it does when someone rolls their eyes and walks away right in front of me. Gladly, that rarely, if ever, happens. But the fear remains.)
I am really thankful for the people I correspond with, now and in the past. I am thankful for the friendships I have made, and for the opportunity I have of glimpsing other parts of the world beyond my own. I am thankful for the chance to sit down, open a decorated envelope, and read a letter written out by hand. I am thankful too, to those who took the time to write to me.
So, if you ever feel lonely, want someone to talk to, want to learn about another part of the world, or if you simply want to learn and practice a new language, I encourage you to reach out and try getting a penpal for yourself.
But that said, there are some good sides and bad sides to penpaling. I will address these in tomorrow’s post, so stay tuned.
For now, enjoy the rest of Saturday!
*Photo by Joanna Kosinska, Unsplash.
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