I have always found the prospect of having a pen pal incredibly appealing. Initially I was obsessed with the idea of someone who was from a land far, far away where the culture was completely different and exotic, but after having spent a whole year struggling to construct sentences in a letter to a girl from Germany (okay, Germany isn’t that exotic) I realised otherwise. Apparently I didn’t know as much German as I thought I did.
After coming to the conclusion that I would never be able to say anything more than ‘I have a pet dog who likes to eat and sleep’ in German, I decided that perhaps snail mail from one pen pal to another wasn’t for me. Of course the world thought otherwise and I ended up with a fellow Australian pen pal who lived only a couple of hours away but at least spoke the same language! Despite this, having a pen pal isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. It’s hard.
First of all, you must understand that you are to never break the unwritten laws of snail mail:
– One must never type their letter, rather hand write only
– One must respond to a letter within approximately one month of its arrival
– One must not only answer the questions or prompts from their partner but also pose their own questions too
This makes things very difficult.
For a computer reliant person like myself, handwriting two or so pages takes a considerable amount more time than it feels like it should and I end up getting terribly distracted. As for responding within a month – you have no idea how incredibly difficult this is. Every second of my day seems to be crammed with study or food or study or sleep or study, not letter-writing (though I wish such was not the case). Then it comes to the point where you have written your letter (and it has taken you ten times longer because you handwrote it at midnight after having reached the unofficial one month deadline) and you realise you have to come up with an assortment of questions so that your partner thinks that you are interested (which you are, but it’s just so difficult). It’s tiring. It’s hard. But it’s not all bad.
Letter writing has made me realise how amazing technology is these days. My pen pal and I send a total of about 12 letters per year (6 each). I send about a million emails/skype messages/texts etc. per year. When writing letters you don’t waste time talking about all the garbage you would normally ramble on about when chatting to friends on facebook. Instead you focus on the important things you have to say and sift out all of the rubbish. It helps put things in perspective and makes you realise how much (or how little) is going on in your life. Lastly, letter writing has this ‘feel’ to it that just isn’t there with other forms of communication. There is nothing better than opening your letterbox to a humble little envelope bearing your name and address.
So for all who dreamt of making friends with snail mail as a child, go ahead and do it because though it’s a real pain in the neck, it’s so worth it.
Monica @ frangipani princess xoxo