The Joy of the Pen | Stanford University Undergraduate Application Essay

On Sunday nights, I take out my favorite fountain pen and write letters. The letters vary by week. Sometimes I use store bought stationery; other times my words are casually scrawled on index cards. The recipients vary, too. Many have received letters from me before, but it is common for the addressees to be letter-from-Caitlin virgins.

This tradition started when I received my first letter of the not Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas variety. The second day at a conference, I was slipped a small envelope by a new friend. The message was brief and seemingly trivial, but the gesture resonated with me. Here was somebody who thought of me and went through the effort to put it on paper. Suddenly, I no longer felt alone in a place where, previously, I had felt very alone.

I returned home, inspired, and began writing to the people in my life. Events from a friend passing her driving test to a teacher whose class I enjoyed were recognized and their responses were gratifying. Like me, they appreciated the effort a letter signified. The act is a reminder that they are significant in somebody else’s life. We are all connected and our cumulative actions will shape the future of our world. Letters, I was told by my crying school crossing…

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