How a Pen Can Give You a Friend

Have you ever thought about having a pen friend?

Someone who lives halfway around the world, maybe you’ll never see but who might be your best friend?

A forgotten habit

Writing a letter to tell about us to a distant friend is a habit that we probably tend to place in a period passed by many, many years.

It may seem anachronistic to talk about pen pals today, in the era of digital, where everything goes from computers and phones, and everything is fast, immediate, consumed in a moment.

For many of us correspondence is just an experience made by children, a distant memory set aside along the way. We grew up, our interests changed as did our motivations and we ended up getting away from our pen pals, each of us going his own way.

But there are those who still decide to live this experience to return to a world and a dimension perhaps no longer current but rich in experiences and emotions.

Why decide to have pen pals?

Take a piece of paper, an envelope, put a stamp on it, send it somewhere in the world and wait for an answer… you could call it a vintage practice that, as such, still has its fans.

In adulthood, pen palling is a more rational choice and the motivations are more solid.

Perhaps the daily commitments do not leave us much room for ourselves, perhaps even true friendships, those with which we feel free to be completely ourselves, are scarce. Maybe we want to live new experiences, to know new realities, to travel even if only with the imagination.

Writing to a pen pal can be a deeply stimulating and fulfilling experience. In some cases, it even gives us the chance to make a lifelong friendship.

A letter has an infinitely greater value than an email or a message on Whatsapp. Think of it: while messages and emails are easily stored, lost, and forgotten, much more often you keep letters that on certain occasions are reread with great pleasure.

Putting emotions on paper

In a society like ours, made of masks to wear and roles to interpret, the written word is perhaps one of the few ways to get rid of the expectations of others and enter a path of self-consciousness to give the opportunity to our inner world to go out and be shared.

Writing has a strong therapeutic value.  Writing about our feelings, our experiences, helps us to rework them, to look at ourselves in a different light, to be more objective and to learn to know us better. And it helps to listen to others, to take the time to dwell on what they have to tell us and to work out an answer to give them our opinion.

Besides, handwriting presupposes commitment and will. It is a re-appropriation of one’s own space to let thoughts and emotions run inside one’s head, to choose the right word and the most suitable adjective to accompany them, to make a first version, to reread it, to change it again and again until being satisfied.

Writing with your own fist means slowing down time and having the opportunity to reorganize feelings and opinions because emotions and ideas must be clear and easy to read if you want them to reach the heart of the recipient.

Reappropriate our time

Today more than ever, in a world that runs fast and where time is never enough, dedicating time to writing a paper letter is a simple gesture that is charged with great emotional value.

It teaches us to increase patience, from “everything and immediately” that distinguishes our daily expectations we learn the value of patience and waiting.

Moreover, receiving a letter from a place far away in the world gratifies us at the thought that someone so distant from us has decided to take some time to devote himself to us, has decided to tell us about his life, his thoughts, waiting for our answer and maybe even our advice.

For this reason, writing or receiving a letter is a rare experience with a precise meaning: it means “I have taken some time to put my thoughts on paper because I particularly care about you”.

Broaden the horizons

It’s not just fun, having pen pals can also increase our knowledge about other countries, their uses and their cultures,  broadening our points of view by making us consider new perspectives, it can expand our interests and our horizons.

Not to mention that, if real friendship is born, it is very likely that one day or the other we will decide to go and meet our friend in person!

Is it true friendship?

While writing a diary is an individual experience, correspondence is a way of using writing even to not feel alone, to feel that there is always someone with whom we can share our thoughts and who is ready to listen to us.

In many cases, friendships can arise that continue for many years until our pen friends become real members of our narrowest group of affections.

Also with a distant correspondent, it is much easier to confide. Not sharing the same environment we do not fear to be excluded, misjudged, or that our confidences may reach common acquaintances… our friend is a safe haven in which to take refuge and receiving a letter from him will always give something special to our day!

But can distance friendship be considered true friendship?

You think you have a person with whom you have regularly exchanged letters for years, you tell her all about yourself and she does the same.  You know each other’s lives, projects, problems, desires. And when something happens in your journey, you mentally imagine the words with which you will tell your friend… how would you define all this if not friendship?

What if we decide to start?

If it is really a pen pal that we are looking for, we distrust all sites that offer us the opportunity to exchange contacts online.

An example of a proven organization is the International Pen Friends that connects, exclusively epistolary, people from all over the world for over 50 years!

You will then decide, once the friendship is established, whether to exchange emails, telephone numbers and, as often happens, visit each other in your respective countries!




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