A gratitude challenge: 50 letters to friends as a goodbye!

I was pretty sad at the end of four years of college out in Brunswick, Maine at Bowdoin College. I’d been lucky enough to make a lot of life-long pals who were spreading out all over the country (and globe!) at the end of college—and I felt like I needed to tell each person how much their friendship meant to me, so…I did!

I’ve always loved writing letters! If that was a love language, then it would be mine through and through. I decided to hand-design a bunch of cards and then every day for the last month-ish of college I’d spend 10-30 minutes writing each friend a letter. It’s funny because writing down all of my favorite memories, what I loved about each friend and my hopes for staying connected allowed me turn my sadness into gratitude!

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I graduated from college back in 2016, but I still think about this project every once in a while! I don’t think we all take pauses enough to tell people that we love and care about all the things that we love about them—and it made me curious, why?

Do we wait to say these things because we think those people will always be around? Are we all nervous to say things like that for fear that others don’t share the sentiment? Or…some other reason that alludes us?

It’s become a tradition for me to write everyone a letter whenever I leave a spot and it’s actually a really beautiful way that helps me say goodbye to people & places. I left a job after 9 months in Durango, CO and I made a lot of quick, deep friendships after working 8 day shifts with people in the harsh backcountry life of a wilderness therapy guide. So, naturally I felt sad to leave despite moving onto a new journey & adventure. So, I threw an ice-cream party and gave everyone their letter where I made sure to highlight how much I appreciated everyone.

The art of writing letters isn’t that popular among twenty-ish year olds—I guess millennials would rather get a text than a letter? It’s funny because I can count on two hands the letters that I’ve gotten back from people. I think it’s powerful to put pen to paper to tell someone how much they mean to you, but I think I’m lucky because I grew up with a mom & dad who’d write letters for EVERY occasion: new job? birthday? break-up? accomplished a goal? moved somewhere new? They’ll write a heart-felt letter full of love for almost every milestone of life, so I’ve grown up with the habit of writing letters as well as cherishing them.

So, I’ll keep writing letters to people who I care about in my life—and I’m going to try and do it before the time comes when I move away (new goal!)

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