When I was a teen, I struggled with some heavy emotional issues. The one thing that always lifted my spirits, though, was checking the mail and see if I received anything. I kept all of the letters I received during those dark times. In fact, they were exactly what I needed to move past the hard moments into the light.
Receiving snail mail didn’t completely solve my issues, but I never expected a cure. The cards may not have fixed every problem in my life, but they gave me the motivation to move forward.
Those letters were full of encouragement, love, and acceptance.
I never figured out who sent them. Looking back now, whether my grandparents stuck the letters in the mail, or someone else wrote them doesn’t matter.
When my struggles turned physical, the first thing I did after receiving my diagnoses was wish that I would find a letter in my mailbox. Although I didn’t find any letters in my mailbox, I eventually gathered up all my letters and cards in a shoebox so I could read them in difficult moments like that one.
Receiving letters motivated me to help make a difference in others’ lives, no matter how small. I began vigorously searching Pinterest for ways to cheer others up, and I found the perfect project: Open When Letters.
Open When Letters is a program that gives people a series of letters with instructions on when to open them.
The directions can be as general as “Open when you miss me” or “Open when you’re feeling blue.” They can also be specific, like “Open on your birthday” or “Open when you graduate college.” The letters’ themes can be as creative as you’d like – but the more specific to the individual, the better.
I have created four different sets of Open When Letters since last year. Through Open When, I’ve shared letters with my closest friends, my aunt, and my sister. When I sent those letters, I felt happy knowing that I brightened someone’s day. I also realized that even if the recipient lives in my town, they appreciate the gesture just as much as someone who lives far away.
If you’d like to make your own Open When Letters, think about what your friends need. If your friend is struggling with their mood, try “Open when you’re sad” or “Open when you’re angry.” If you want to celebrate a milestone, try “Open on your birthday,” “Open on your graduation,” or “Open on your sobriety anniversary.” And if you want to connect with your friends, try “Open when you need a coffee date” or “Open when you need a girls’ night in.”
If they help you too, and you want to spread the love, try making and sending an “Open When” letter to a friend or family member who could use a little surprise. You’ll feel fulfilled, and they’ll feel thankful for you – what could be better?
Originally Posted on The Spoonie Sanctuary
Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash