[Image description: Photo of a pen pal package including a letter, posters, drawings and a few other paper treasures.] Image by Risen Magazine.
Article by Emily Bourne.
I truly think the art of penpalling is a gift in modern society. Our lives are littered with technology, social media addiction and virtual reality. Being able to keep in contact by mail with friends and strangers is refreshing.
A lot of people who haven’t penpalled before, ask: where do you find penpals? But the answers aren’t as obscure as you think! You can write to friends you’ve met on holiday, friends that now live abroad, family members, people you’ve met online (that one’s kinda a paradox of old and new, huh?) Penpallers usually have pages in which they find new penpals and sometimes make posts for other people to find penpals, too (for example, here's one.)
I spoke to a few fellow penpallers, and here’s what they have to say on why they love to penpal:
“For me penpalling is a great way to express my creativity, as I love to make happy mail for my penpals. In these letters and envelopes I create and decorate the letters nicely with themes that suit the person I'm writing. For me it's like the feeling of Christmas when you were a kid everytime I open my mailbox and see that there is a letter there. I get so happy and grateful when opening the small pieces of art I receive from my penpals and by knowing how much time and effort they have put into creating the letter. But I also find writing to penpals and just sending a postcard to someone is a great way of showing some love in these times of social distancing and in times when more people might feel alone.
In some of the group's I'm a member of on FaceBook we have spoken a lot about the reason why people penpal lately and for many that have issues with being social with people irl it’s a source of connection. Some even said that they don't really have any friends and penpalling is a way for them to not feel as lonely.
I love to include goodies and small gifts to my penpals and it can be anything from stickers, washi tapes or other stationary related items to tea and smaller candies. With some of my fellow vegan pen pals we swap recipes.”
“The most fun part is when you open your mailbox and you find some postcards or letters, instead of bills! It brings me so much joy.
It’s also lovely to meet new people from all over the world.”
“For me, the most fun part is finding people you really connect with and you become actual friends! I have two penpals that I separately talk to on Instagram while we wait for each other's mail.”
“I think it’s really special that you have someone to talk to about your life. I have one pen pal who I talk to everyday on Whatsapp. We still send each other mail, but enjoy talking over social media, too.
I usually include stickers, memo pads and postcards. Sometimes I exchange photographs with my penpal, too.”
“I got into penpalling again, as I used to do it when I was younger, but stopped when I started University, after having my daughter and suffering from PPD. My partner was working long hours with many business trips all over Europe and the US, and since we were expats in Ireland, I had no family nearby.
It was amazing to send and receive letters, and to connect with people from all over the world. It really helped me through tough times, and I’ve met amazing people! Some of which I’ve then met up with in real life. I went through some really dark times back then and can honestly say that snail mail has helped me more than any doctor ever could!
I usually include washi samples, stickers, local stuff like postcards or flyers or magnets, my favourite tea and whatever I feel my penpal would enjoy. I’ve gotten so close to a few of my penpals that I’m actually sourcing special things for them and get really excited when I find things they like.”
“For me it’s a hobby and a way to connect with people. I love creating something in the hopes that my penpal will get a smile on her face and we stay in touch through a letter. I like to include something extra whether it's some goodies like stickers or tea, or include some fun questions or a playlist.”
Below are a few more popular pen pal accounts to check out!