Letter to a Familiar Stranger

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Fuller Prize Honorable Mention

Fuller Prize

By Andrea Cincotti

Dear Familiar Stranger, 

I just wanted to tell you that it’s ok. It’s ok not to be ok.  

I’m sorry for the play on words. I didn’t want to sound like one of those pop songs you listen to on the train with your head against the window thinking about your life like you’re in some sort of music video. Yet, it’s true.  

People think that being a teenager is the worst thing in the world. I personally blame this false belief on the trillions of movies where the protagonist (usually a handsome Zac Efron look-alike that you can find only in films…or in your dreams) hates being a teenager, wishes to be older, realizes that being old is equally (or even more) shitty, and decides that his previous life was not that bad after all. Well, we all know that’s bullshit. I mean, life is not easy for anyone, at any age. If you’re a child, you have children problems like being the commander-in-chief of your superhero squad; if you’re a teenager, you constantly try to understand who you are, assuming the whole world hates you; and when you’re an adult, you’re forced to face the world on your own for the very first time and you can finally state that…it actually sucks.  

However, I think we’re in the range that sucks the most. We’re not teenagers anymore and we’re not adults yet. We’re in the middle—and let’s be honest—nobody likes to be in the middle. I mean, between going to hell and spending the rest of your life in a sort of limbo, everyone with a bit of intellect would choose hell, right? Well, once again, I might be swayed into thinking this because of the depiction of the devil as some cool, attractive and funny guy that TV series still perpetrate. 

Anyway, the point is that we spend so much of our lives hearing that we should act a certain way, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, behave a certain way, love a certain way, that we become scared, confused, and without a simple glimpse of who we really are, even before 20. Yet, I actually believe THIS is the perfect time to understand who we are. Let’s be clear, you’ll never understand who you truly are, not even on your death bed, but you can try getting to know some parts of it. 

Just remember:  

-Things never stay the same. We all grow up and add a new little piece of ourselves every day. 

-Perfection doesn’t exist. Make mistakes. There will be highs and lows. It’s normal. Learn from your mistakes more than from your achievements.  

-Be yourself. Again, I know this sounds like something you would hear in a TV show, but it’s fundamental. Even if you don’t believe it, you’re special, you’re rare.  

-You’re not alone. We always think we’re alone in what we’re going through. We’re not. There are people who went through the same things, others that are experiencing them with us, and others that will experience them after us.  

I’m not a wise old man like the ones that die after a beautiful speech at the end of a movie…luckily. I’m just experiencing these things now, and I learned that sharing our stories can always help someone else.  

Best regards, 

A familiar stranger.  

P.S. Sorry if some parts were cringe, it was not my intention, but it’s all true. 

P.P.S. Sorry for all the movie references, I’m just watching a lot of them these days because…you know…the pandemic.

Andrea graduated with honors last semester. He was a Communications major with a minor in Creative Writing.