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Have you ever received a letter in the mail? Not junk mail, a random coupon book, or online order, but an actual letter? No? Well, why not take these socially distanced times as an opportunity to send some love through the mail?

I’m sure you’ve heard or read this before, but being socially distant does not mean you should be emotionally distant from those you love. Letters are a way in which you can send your friends or family a personal physical item made just by you. You can customize your message to fit each person in your life, or you can just write a simple note to your friend. The fact that you took the time to write something on paper is the only thing that matters.

A break from the screen

We are bombarded by the instant gratification of social media, the internet, iMessage, Facetime, etc. One of the most popular apps this year is one that features one-minute videos for you to scroll through. In addition, school is online which makes getting off your computer way harder than it used to be.

Writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper could be a nice break from the constant screen time our brains are subjected to. Even the fact that you have to wait at least two weeks to get a letter in return could be a nice reminder that not all things are instant. Relationships take time to build like a letter takes time to make it to its recipient.

Infinite possibilities between the lines

I’m sure you’ve heard about the love letters sent during World War II — how soldiers would keep in contact with their wives through these letters full of metaphor and emotion. Even in these hard times, letters brought people together. Going forward to more recent times, social media posts where two people meet through written messages have gone viral. One person even documented his journey on TikTok of home-sending a letter to the girl in front of his apartment. I saw another video recently of a boy sending a note to the girl across the road from his house. Who knows maybe your soulmate lives next door and is only one letter away from you finding him or her?

What I’m trying to say is that letters have infinite possibilities, and if you’re not too afraid to explore them you could surprise yourself in the process.

What if you reconnected with an old friend who lives far away? What if you wrote to an author whose book you adore? What if you wrote to someone you found on the internet (safely) and got to know them through being pen pals? Or what if you just wrote to your grandma because you know she would really appreciate a handwritten letter?

In my experience, I have written letters for all of the above: to reconnect, get to know, send love, and send birthday wishes. I have written to one of my previous high school teachers as a way to catch up. I have written birthday cards to friends who I will not see until who knows when. I have written to a friend who moved away. I have also written to a pen pal I met through a discord group. Five years ago, I even wrote to an author, and I got a reply!

An important lesson learned

What newfound wisdom have I acquired from letter writing you might ask? Well, I’m no expert by any means. Honestly, one of my friends could earn the prize for the cutest crafted letters in the world. I am also not the most eloquent of my peers since two of my pen pals are English majors. But, I have learned this: though it is not my favorite means of communication, there is something that allows you to be vulnerable when writing on paper.

Sometimes our thoughts get filtered through the fear of judgment, but when we put them down on paper there is something freeing that lets our thoughts run wild. I could tell you that I will treasure these pieces of paper forever because it is a physical representation of someone’s love for me. Not romantic love per se, but a love that lets you think of someone else. A love that is vulnerable with you and treats you as a friend, reminds you that you are someone worth caring about — someone worth receiving paper love.

Graphic by Autumn Rendall

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