For over four years, I have walked away from Compass for Kids, where I volunteer weekly, with a warm-hearted feeling truly inexplicable. Throughout this time, I have built unbreakable bonds with many of my students, and thus have gained access to the most intimate aspects of their personalities. Different from other elementary students, in the short amount of time the Compass Kids have been alive, food insecurity, physical/mental abuse, and many other situations that most adults will never face have monopolized their lives.
At my first Valentine’s Day celebration with the children, I received a heart shaped note in scribbly, perfectly imperfect handwriting that said, “thank you, Ms. Leeza for coming and helping me.” Yes, words were misspelled, and you had to turn your head and squint to make out my name, but no gesture since has made me feel so appreciated. Although this certainly exited the memory of this child the second they handed me the letter, I have had this hung above my desk for nearly four years. It has brought me large amounts of comfort, namely in the past year, for I can only see my students virtually.
In today’s overwhelmingly digital society, I’ve found to cherish all handwritten tokens. I will always choose writing over typing; when I type in double-spaced, twelve-point Times New Roman font, identical to my peers, I feel robotic, as if my work is insubstantial. However, I take solace when using a ball-point pen and paper, for my personality radiates through the curvy words on the page. I am truly aware and focused on each stroke of my pen and what I am writing, versus aimlessly clicking my laptop’s text prediction. Personally, being hunched over a piece of paper with a pen is refreshing, especially now that our everyday (once loved) activities have been converted to Zoom. In an attempt to salvage my mental health during quarantine, I created to-do lists for each day on a sticky note. It served as a sense of normalcy- an anchor in the chaos of our modern society.
Whether it be a fading Valentine or stack of completed to-do lists, there is some handwritten keepsake that many humans can find comfort in. I believe in the power of handwriting; it not only has given me a breath of fresh air in our suffocatingly digitized world, but allows me to reminisce among my fondest of memories.