The message came through on my phone. “Call me this weekend if you can.”
It was not an unexpected text. It was from a high school friend. Even though it had been 46 years since our high school graduation, we have stayed in touch over the years. Through college, marriages, relocations, losses, jobs, successes, children, and now grandchildren. We live thousands of miles apart, but several times a year, we get caught up.
I am usually the one to initiate, and it is almost always email. Years ago it was written letters, but you can’t ignore the convenience of some technology. My emails are usually long and newsy. Sometimes my emails are just to her, and sometimes they are “Group Emails” that include several other friends from our high school social group. When it is just this friend, she always responds with a requested phone call.
She prefers talking; I prefer writing. Plain and simple.
When we do end up chatting, she acknowledges that the phone call is not my preferred choice of connecting, but she explains that she needs to hear my voice, the nuances in tone, and the responses I have to her statements. She says that it is that feedback that is part of what she needs as she shares.
For me, I have always loved writing as a way to share, process, and think. The act of putting pen to paper, (or keyboard to text) is part of my thinking. As I search for the words, form the sentences, and revise my thoughts, things gain clarity for me. Seeing and rereading the words, help to organize my thoughts and insights. Sometimes new observations and ideas emerge.
One of my first badges that I earned as a girl scout, decades ago, was my Pen Pal Badge. And I still correspond with Cindy, the fellow elementary school student I was matched with for the Pen Pal project. We have never met, have never spoken on the phone, but have exchanged letters and emails for over fifty years.
I love beautiful stationery, pretty pens, and inspirational journals. They seem to be an important part of communicating and connecting for me. The process of writing, of taking thoughts and ideas and experiences and emotions, and putting them into words on paper, is a transformative act for some of us. For others, the act of speaking and hearing is their way of connecting.
I was thinking about all this at school recently. This month as the new school year got underway, one of the things I had my students complete, was a Learning Styles Checklist. While not scientific, the information uncovered through the reflection and questions, helped to reveal the best way they each learned and processed information. Obviously, important information for me to have about them, but essential for them as well. As they take control of their own learning and become advocates for themselves, this type of insight can be powerful. Visual learners prefer the written/visual representation of ideas and thinking, while auditory learners need to talk to process. I smiled as I thought about how some will grow up to prefer letters and emails, while others will want to connect through phone calls.
Staying in touch with family and friends and loved ones is such a critical part of the human experience, no matter what your preferred format!