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I wasn’t diagnosed with autism until my early thirties, so for years I was left in a constant state of anxiety and frustration at my difficulty in connecting with others. I didn’t make friends, real friends, until my 20’s, and lost them in my late 20’s. So for the first time in years, I found myself alone again, and at a loss. I tried joining numerous discord servers, but was overwhelmed and shy (a horrible mix if you’re an introvert, like me!).

Eventually, I took to browsing the Play Store. There were plenty of chat apps to choose from, but me and instant messaging don’t get along well. So I considered something slower, that gave me more control: penpals. Slowly was among one of the few that came up, and safer, too.

I’d be lying if I said my first few attempts at making a penpal went smoothly. It was hard to find someone I clicked with, but it didn’t take long for a few people to stand out. Most of my longest penpals were the ones to reach out to me first, and from the start, I knew it was going to last a while. One in particular was a writer like me, but also neurodivergent. It was a shock to the system to meet someone I had a lot in common with — someone I would later go on to exchange over fifty letters with (my highest by far!), mostly discussing writing, gender, and navigating a capitalistic society from a trans and neurodivergent lens.

So I’m grateful to Slowly for giving me an opportunity to connect with people and build friendship. I love the slow paced nature of it; it makes communication palatable and gives me the space to do so.

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