Handwriting as Fingerprints

Written by Mel Sidman

When you think about writing a letter, I'd imagine you immediately go to a few places. The process, the emotion you're conveying, the time, and that perhaps you should, or would like to, do it more often. While I think about writing a letter, I find myself ruminating on handwriting. One of the main reasons I believe people don't write more letters is because of the time it takes to write something out versus typing it into a phone or computer. However, by writing instead of typing, you're contributing a piece of yourself to the note's meaning. Your recipient experiences the immediate recognition of your handwriting when they open the paper's folds. It has already made them think of and appreciate you as the sender before you even get into the content's meat. So, as a start, letter writing reclaims some of its time in the basics of how it comes to be—your handwriting.

Handwriting is like a fingerprint. No two people have the same font, and it has always been fascinating to me that your script changes and evolves with you. When you're young and learning cursive, you're at the beginning of your handwriting journey and honestly, likely not doing a great job keeping your letters in between those three purposefully-spaced lines. When you're in middle school, you're still butchering handwriting a little bit, but you'll want to emulate some of your classmates' writing. By the time you get to high school, you'll be a pro at changing your style, and you'll decide you want to write in a very rounded "girly" font with hearts to dot your "I's." In college, you have to write so quickly to keep up with notes in class that your handwriting is barely legible as you can no longer take the time to make every letter follow neatly. It's almost like we're back to the beginning.  

In time, you'll open your journals from over the years and watch yourself and your handwriting grow in many ways (did I seriously want to date that person?). Somewhere in between all of that, you end up with what you have as an adult. I used to look at my mother's elegant handwriting and wonder if that's what mine would look like when I was an adult. Now that I'm here, it's interesting to reflect about that time and look at my handwriting in juxtaposition. A mix of connecting and separate letters with a bit of modern cursive is nothing like my mother's, but I love where it has ended up. 

It makes me nostalgic for a time I don't even know. To think of letters and writing notes and how you could open a message in the mail, have no idea who it's from, but then look at the handwriting like a voice and know without reading a word. Handwriting is a beautiful thing. It's a skill we use when we need to; we take it for granted, we don't think of it beyond what it is. But then you sit down to purposefully write a letter, and maybe you consider your handwriting a bit more, you think of how it got to where it is and where it might go, somewhat like the pointed act of writing a letter. 

One of a Kind

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