When I graduated college I was concerned about keeping in touch with a handful of friends. I had been told of how quickly we would grow apart. We had ended up in separate states, some in grad school, some getting married, some venturing to places without internet. It was a terrifying thought- losing touch with the people that have become my family. I had watched other friendships fall into the trap of social media. The trap where you think you know what's happening in a friends life because you like every instagram and favorite every tweet. Personally, I don't have time for that. I crave deep talks, vulnerability, and intentionality not notifications and status updates. Graduation came and went. I slowly began to feel that tension of absence. Then one day the answer appeared in the most natural of ways. We began writing letters. That's right, those old fashioned scribbles on actual paper.
I love writing letters almost as much as I enjoy receiving them. It's antiquated and slightly unpredictable (many a letter has been lost in the great, dark abyss called USPS); but it is incredibly beautiful and moving. Allow me to share the four reasons I love writing letters.
1. Letters are Intentional
Letters require time and thought. They are intentional. They inherently carry more meaning than a text message or email. A letter says "I care enough about our friendship to spend time carefully writing my thoughts to you." A letter says "You are important." Letters allow us to have a tangible representation of that person with us as we read their thoughts. They are gifts of conversation.
2. Letters Allow Us to be Vulnerable in the Safest of Ways.
I would venture to say the hardest part of long distance relationships is the lack of vulnerability and openness. When you are in close proximity to a person, it is easier to open up about our fears and struggles because that person has invested their time in our life. When you live hours apart, maintaining that level of trust is hard. Letters allow me to open up about the hardest struggles of my life in the safest of ways... alone. In writing a letter to my best friend, I can open up about my struggles and doubts and pain. I know that she will be faithful with the information. I also know that I can find the release I need in telling someone things that will take at least a week for a response, plenty of time to wade through those pesky emotions and figure myself out.
3. Letters are Fun!
Let's face it, we all love getting mail. It makes my day to open the mailbox and find a letter from a friend. Letters are the perfect pick-me-up. They can make the worst day a little bit brighter. Also, on days when I am missing my friends more than usual, you can find me rereading their letters and remembering all the beautiful moments we have shared.
4. Letters are Versatile.
It can be hard to keep up with friends headed in different directions. A far cry from social media, letters allow me to stay up to date on the academic musings of friends in graduate school or the humorous antics of friends with kids. Letters can be short or long. They can be simple "hey I'm thinking about you" or complex "let's talk about literary themes." Letters are personal.
It's that time when many of you are making New Year's Resolutions and many of those resolutions involve intentionality. I hope that you venture into the land of writing letters for the reasons listed above and so many more. I dare say that in writing letters you will find out more about yourself and your friends. Get a cup of coffee, write a friend, and live intentionally.