Dear Caleb, Happy Birthday

Dear Caleb,

Happy 26th Birthday!

Yesterday, someone offhandedly wished you a “happy last day of your 26th year” and you, after a cursory reflection on the last 364 days, responded with, “It’s been a year.”

I know you, and I know the kind of year that it’s been. If asked, I know you could dredge up in a heartbeat a list of perceived mistakes and regrets longer than many of the previous years. I have been here and seen for myself as this year has pushed you harder than ever before. I have seen you push yourself harder than ever before.

I know you’re struggling right now with the consequences of an overfull life. You’ve struggled to find time for even the simple things, like doing the dishes and responding to emails, and have seen your personal relationships sacrificed in the process, in a very literal sense.

But each year you’ve lived has taught you more about life, and you should be encouraged that you are choosing this year to choose your priorities with more intention and care. As you head into your 27th year, you have already taken some incredible steps to make time for both yourself and for others.

And — my word! — even in the midst of the frenetic highs and lows you have experienced this year, look at all the choices you’ve already made! You have read more this year than any year in recent history; you have continued to study two foreign languages, and added a third; you made definitive steps towards practicing your main instrument more consistently (even if it’s been difficult to maintain lately); you’ve finally taken up the violin like you’ve been talking about for years; and you’ve taken charge of your finances and your debt by starting a budget.

In a year full of things of which you weren’t sure you’d be capable, you have fought, and are fighting, to be better than you were. And that is always something to be proud of, regardless of how much progress you have made. Progress is progress, even if you’re beaten back in the process, even if it’s not as far as you were hoping to get. Progress is progress.

And so, in the midst of one last push to end out this semester, be encouraged! Though you have trudged through much to get to this day, you are here, and you know where you want to go.

Happy birthday.

Love, Caleb



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