Illustrator: Neha Shaw

"I know that at first thought, writing letters back and forth with friends does not sound ideal and might even sound kind of lame." - Neha Shaw

Snail Mail: Unconventional Connection

May 25, 2020

Dear Mustang Monthly Reader,

As we continue to physically distance, shopping in stores is an activity that many are unable to partake in, so people everywhere have resorted to lots of online shopping to satisfy their consumer needs. I know you have too, and I’m certain you get a little thrill when you see packages full of things you ordered sitting on your doorstep. Quarantine or not, I do too! Whether it is a package of goodies from your favorite online store, a new book you ordered a week ago, or mail from colleges, receiving something in the mail with my name on it definitely brightens my day. However, I, along with many other individuals, also derive a great deal of happiness and excitement from seeing a handwritten letter addressed to me from a friend sitting in the clutter of magazine subscriptions, mail for my parents, and other miscellaneous things pulled from the mailbox. As a person who thrives on social interaction, staying cooped up in my house has been a challenge at times, but starting written correspondence with some of my close friends nearby and far away has opened my eyes to the joy that can come from “snail mail”. I do not mean to sound like a Boomer when I say this, but I’ve realized that writing letters as a form of communication truly is a lost art. As school comes to a close, we will have even more free time, which also provides us with more opportunities to just sit in our houses bored; however, I encourage you to use some of this time to write to a few friends. Doing so will keep you motivated, slow you down, and, most importantly, help you connect with others on a new level.

Now that AP tests have wrapped up, seniors have basically graduated, and our year at KHS ends in less than a week, it has been too easy to stay in the comfort of a bed, eyes glued to a screen, wasting hours, days, and weeks away without even realizing it, forgetting to respond to emails or calls, much less even text friends back. Getting up to write a whole letter probably does not sound like the most appealing of activities, most likely because it can be time consuming and requires some effort. Never fear! Starting a written correspondence with a couple friends is much easier than it sounds, and I have broken it down into a couple steps to help you start! First, text one friend and get their address. Second, pull out some paper. Third, ask your friend how they are doing and what they’re up to and then write down some thoughts you have, maybe some shows/movies you’ve recently enjoyed, or a funny story you felt like sharing. Write whatever you want to write; the letter is all yours to send! Ask your friend a couple questions in the letter so that they have something to respond to in their letter back to you. Yes, that’s right, you get something out of this! Actually, you get a lot of things out of this beyond just some mail in return. More on that later. Fourth, grab an envelope, fold your letter, and put it inside the envelope. Write your address in the top left corner, their address and name in the center, and stick a nice little stamp in the top right corner. Bam. You have just written a letter. Finally, stick it in your outgoing mailbox and patiently await a nice letter back!

Once you’ve done all of these steps, you’ll probably be out of bed and will have tried something that you probably hadn’t done for fun in a long time. Suddenly, not only have you gotten something done and started a fun thing with your friend, but you now have a letter from your friend to look forward to! For me, making me invest time into connecting with my friends on paper has been super motivating, and I’ve gained greater insight into their interests and how they choose to express themselves just by sharing some of my thoughts on a piece of paper with them and reading what they send to me. I still text and Facetime my friends often to stay connected, but through letters, I enjoy having conversations that are not exactly in real time and instead span over a period of a couple weeks. Despite being stuck at home, life still moves pretty quickly. Taking some time to write and read letters allows me to relax and breathe for a few moments as I tell someone about what I’ve been up to by writing it down and fleshing it out rather than in a few consecutive three-word text messages. Technological innovations that allow us to communicate at high speeds and in real time are astounding and make life much easier and more efficient; however, slowing down to write some kind words to a friend and wait a few days for what they say back can be refreshing and fun. It is called “snail mail” for a reason! 

Here are some other fun things that you can add to your letters to make sending and receiving them more exciting:

  • Song, movie, book, podcast, show recommendations!
  • Short Q and A’s! Stick a sticky note on your letter with a couple brief questions that your friend can answer in a couple words, like “What’s your favorite planet?” or “If your personality was described by any Chick-Fil-A sauce, which would it be?”
  • Make a playlist together! Put a small slip of paper in to send back and forth and add songs with each letter you both send
  • Drawings or photos! Spice it up!! 

I know that at first thought, writing letters back and forth with friends does not sound ideal and might even sound kind of lame. In all honesty, I thought that at first too! However, I can almost guarantee you that getting a pen pal and starting written correspondence with someone is definitely worth a little bit of your large abundance of time. Happy writing!

Sincerely,

Neha Shaw

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