In 2017, after several back surgeries I had found myself starting to pull back into myself more.
Once a strong extrovert, always the joker of the group, the trauma of the surgeries had left me severely introverted a shadow of my former self.
Struggling to be even “my old” self around my closest friends and family.
My mental health was starting to take a nose dive.
I was lonely. I wanted to “be” alone, but I was also desperate for company. Seemingly a catch 22 situation.
And then one day the gods of Facebook do what they do best, they suggested a group for me.
A pen palling group.
At first I held back and watched, afraid to “put myself out there”.
However I finally built up the courage to write a little bio and I had several offers of ladies wanting to write with me, I was over the moon!
I got to writing straight away, to a good many, I spent a long time decorating my letters and filling them with goodies.
Heading to the post office this first large batch cost over £30 to post.
I got 2 replies.
I was devastated.
I shared my experience with one of the ladies who had been kind enough to write back and she explained a few things to me. That unfortunately some people just won’t gel with you, this I expected but, like she said, they should have at least have the decency to tell me that, and that some people are “collectors”, they are just in it for the free stuff people send them and often look for new members to write.
BUT she also told me about another group, that group was Snail Mail Pals Ladies Only.
What. A . Contrast.
THIS is what a community should feel like.
So, I put on my big girl pants and I wrote another bio.
I wanted to take on ten new pals. I asked 5 to write first and I wrote 5, that way I would have a steady incoming and outgoing of letters.
I’m up to 19 pals now; one is from that first batch of letters! I have a few in the UK, USA and Canada. One in Belgium, Germany, France and Australia.
Anyone who knows me will say I’m a bit of a talker and my letters are no different.
I write long, rambling letters, often jumping from one subject to the next.
People are often intrigued as to “what” exactly I talk about in my letters.
Well, the same things you would with any friend! Work, school, home, the kids!
One of my pals is a huge fan of the Walking Dead like me, we spend 8 months (3-4 letters) wondering what is going to happen on the season premiere and 3 months (we’ll write A LOT then) discussing every episode!
Another has children almost the same ages as mine (2 and 14) so we talk a lot about having a teenager and a toddler and our everyday adventures.
Another pal, on paper you would think we had nothing in common and yet our differences are what make us interesting to each other!
When you first start writing you don’t always get that instant “spark”, sometimes you have to take the time to get to know someone. Other times it’s like you have known a person your whole entire life!
I find great therapy in letter writing. It’s like I can shut off the entire world around me while I sit and write.
I would like to think it has supported me mentally, my therapist thinks so! I’m no a cured introvert yet, more so an ambivert I’m told. I can live with that.
One thing is for sure, there is nothing quite like getting a little pile of Snail Mail through the letter box sure brightens up my day!
So, what if you wanted to get into Snail Mailing? What do you need to do?
Firstly, I couldn’t recommend the group Snail Mail Pals Ladies Only enough, they are pretty much the only group I use now.
You’ll need a bio – name, age, location. How many pen pals you’d like to start with. Then some fun facts about yourself, what TV shows you like, any crafts you’re into, hobbies, HP house (Hufflepuff here by the way).
You only “really” need a pen, paper and an envelope but there is oh so much very VERY much more you can use.
Just one option is washi tape.
If you’ve never heard of washi tape it’s something akin to a drug for penpallers. We buy it in bulk and even share it with each other, smuggling it across borders attached to playing cards. I’m addicted to washi tape.
There are plenty of other things you can decorate your letters with, making them look snazzy. But they all fall short when compared to the wonder that is washi tape!
Sending goodies. It’s totally up to you. Some pen pals I swap stationary, stickers, paper, postcards (Edith collects them) and sometimes tea with, some it’s just a letter.
Postage. Postage rates are stupid. Fact. For this reason I don’t write as often as I would like. I have a letter sizing thingy (yes that’s the correct term!) which I use to gage the thickness and I also weigh them to keep them within the 100g zone (large letter)
If you take letters to the post office they will stick an ugly big white sticker stamp on your letter. I like to buy my picture stamps direct from Royal Mail (my local PO doesn’t sell them), Harry Potter, Marvel, Game Of Thrones etc. and my small value stamps to add up the value direct from my local PO.
Don’t pressure yourself. It’s quite easy to become a little overwhelmed if you get a little behind and the letters pile up. That’s life. People understand, don’t worry!
And finally, most importantly, Enjoy Yourself!