Spread a Smile With a Letter to a Stranger

A black fountain pen resting on a blank piece of paper

Written by: Shaowda Salehin, Hiba Elsadati, Reya Siby

Photo by: Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Holiday cards are special because they have the power to make someone smile for three seconds and a smile can be hard to come by these days, with masks and social distancing putting strains between strangers. So, this year, my friends and I have decided to write some wishful letters to strangers around the world in hopes for a three second smile.

Whether I was at a grocery store or at the movie theatres, strangers seemed a lot closer and not really all that strange at all during the holiday season because everyone wished each other season's greetings. Happiness, excitement and joy infiltrated every social space and Christmas music filled the speaker systems of shops and restaurants. Strangers are greeted with much kinder words and enthusiastic handshakes during this time of year, but since social interaction is slight to none in our current time, writing to strangers feels like a good way of commemorating the love between strangers!

Write a few words to a stranger and spread the cheer, like we did, using this website!

Letters written by us...

Dear Stranger, 

I know it’s hard to make each day feel new during these times with COVID-19. Every day can feel the same and monotonous. But it is during these times, where we are challenged and get to learn new things on how to adapt to these different circumstances. Getting through these tough times now will prepare you even more in the future when circumstances get difficult again. 

At first, I felt unmotivated and bored. I started to wonder where my life was heading because I had no idea. I was scared, and I am still trying to find my way through this new world. But I realized that sometimes the mystery of not knowing what the future holds is exciting and makes you prioritize living in the moment. For example, I started journaling which has helped me understand more about myself. Also, something about being able to write out your emotions makes you feel a lot better. 

Take walks. Going out once in a while and getting some fresh air can help alleviate some of the stress by making the weather your central thought rather than the deadlines, the assignments, or whatever it may be. 

Adapting to this new virtual world may seem odd where the only way you get to see your loved ones is through a screen and the only form of communication with others is digitally. It can be isolating and lonely. But how about the fact that it’s much easier to connect with others through just the click of a button? Or how there are many forms of communication where you can audio call, write, text, video call, etc.? 

I know people deal with stress and life differently, but trying out little, new things, goes a long way. Looking at the positive side of things makes you realize that things may not be that bad after all. This new world we are living in is a challenge, so accept this challenge and motivate yourself to make each day a new one. 


A Stranger 

Dear Stranger,

I don’t know where you are in your life right now or what you’re doing, but I just wanted to let you know that I am proud of who you are now and who you will be tomorrow. There are people in this world who love you and value you and more wonderful things are to come, just keep the faith in this tumultuous time. Life is strange right now, so maybe getting a letter from a stranger would not be the strangest thing to happen. All of us in every corner of the world are experiencing the effects of this pandemic; which in a way, helps us relate to each other more than any other time in the past. The planet, in solidarity, is facing the largest global threat in human history, but we’re in this fight together and we will win.

Is it cold where you are? The holidays are right around the corner and Canadian weather is at its peak, with chilly winds and snow gracing the ground. It seems like the days turn into nights without me noticing and it can take a mental toll. I wake up in the mornings, just to remind myself to take it easy, to sleep in the extra hour and to add extra sugar to my morning tea. The small things we do to keep ourselves sane and happy, makes this difficult time far more survivable. I’m here living with my family, far away from my university campus grounds, it feels like I am a child again when really I’ll be 21 in just a few months. Now that I think about it, it’s nice to have my parents around, especially when they can pay for things that I’d usually have to buy myself. Whether you’re alone, living with roommates, with family or with a pet, cherish the place you can call home. Slip under the blankets and watch your favourite movie again, because it’s okay to be lazy and take breaks. It’s okay to try to find a balance between being at home all the time and navigating through the COVID world.

I pray for your health, wealth and peace. I hope you stay warm and safe and all the difficulties and challenges you are facing are all resolved, resilience and patience helps us heal. I wish for endless love and laughter in your life, incredible joys and successes and most importantly, for your wellbeing. The holidays look different for everybody this year, but I hope that they are no less joyful for you. It’s a special time to celebrate all that we’ve been blessed with and to express our gratitude for the small and big wonders of life. I hope you can feel my love and hug through this letter.

Happiest of Holidays,

A Stranger

Dear Stranger,

I think the hardest part of having borderline personality disorder is that you feel like the world is against you all the time. It feels like you’re being punished and there is no hope. I envied my neurotypical friends for a long time because I thought it was unfair. And so, something I struggled with identifying is why I should care when life is so unfair. Or why should I care when there is simply nothing to care about. The funny thing about this disorder is that I couldn't develop a sense of self. I didn't know who I was and that made me angry for a long time. And so here is the question that I've been leading up to. How do I make myself feel better? Something I've always wanted was to feel better and feel better fast. But you can’t. The recipe for getting better, in my case at least, was being able to be okay alone. And that doesn't mean denying the support of others, or not wanting to reach out. Reaching out for support is a resource that is not gifted to many people. So, if that is available to you, I urge that you access them. But also consider developing new ways to be okay when you're alone. For instance, being able to trust yourself in an empty room or knowing you can be safe alone even when you're feeling unwell. And if you can master that, well then, this recipe just got a bit easier for you. Take care, stay safe, and keep trying.



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