If you’re anything like me, sometimes texting or responding to emails can feel overwhelming. It carries too much an expectation of an immediate response. There’s not enough time to really think about what I want to say or how to say it. In a capitalistic society that monetizes time, the feeling of urgency is especially prominent—a vague sense of “I have to do this right now so I can move on to other productive activities and not rest for a single moment!”
A few ways I try to get away from that feeling is by taking social media breaks (up to 72 hours at a time), turning off my devices, and binge-reading or putting together jigsaw puzzles. Something quiet, y’know? But that, of course, means less communication, which isn’t always what I want. So I decided to look into getting a pen pal.
There are online international pen pal sites like InterPals, but I found myself not liking that site very well because I was bombarded by messages that ultimately boiled down to, “Would you like to have me as a boyfriend?” (No, thanks.) Having to sift through all those messages to find someone looking to have mutually platonic conversations was too much work, which for me defeated the purpose of creating that account in the first place! So online pen pal sites are not for me.
Some nursing homes have pen pal programs to provide more opportunities for their residents. Your local home(s) may have a program, so it’s worth looking into!
The pen pal program I ended up using is the one hosted by the Hastings Museum in Nebraska. You can check it out here.
I personally really like this program because the sign up is easy. You just fill out a short form about your interests, and the program coordinator matches you with someone who has mutual interests. Each participant (i.e., you and your new pen pal) receives an envelope from the Hastings Museum with a copy of your pal’s form, so you each know what the other likes to do. From there, either of you can write a letter to the other, using the provided address!
It’s been a very relaxing pastime for me.
Anyway, here are my top 4 reasons to have a pen pal:
- Combat loneliness
- Create a deep connection with someone
- A way to slow down
- Practice your handwriting (and reading other people’s handwriting)
Do you have a pen pal? Let us know below!