brother

21 Things to Tell My Brother on His 21st Birthday

In an unbelievable turn of events, my little brother turns 21 today.

What.

I mean…

WHAT.

It’s going to be weird forever, especially when July 2078 comes around and he turns 80 and I will once again say, “WAIT, WHAT?”

21 is a milestone in everyone’s (or at least every American’s) life and I’m so excited to get to celebrate it. It means he’s moving into a new chapter that will hold brand new and exciting adventures.

So as we move towards those exciting adventures, little brother, I just wanted to give you a few pieces of advice that I picked up both on my way towards and in my time since turning 21. I can only hope they bring you the motivation and encouragement they’ve brought me, and that they send you into this new year feeling full.

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1) Don’t be afraid to be afraid—that fear moves you forward.

2) You don’t have to know the ending when you’re still in the middle.

3) Helping people helps you.

4) Your time will come, just be patient and keep working hard.

5) Don’t ignore opportunities that look different than your expectations.

6) Sometimes all you can ask of yourself is small steps forward.

7) Never stop pursuing the new.

8) It’s never too late to find a new hobby.

9) People will always judge you no matter what, so you might as well be yourself.

10) Your life matters more than you could ever realize.

11) You always have more blessings than you think.

12) Give every day the opportunity to be great.

13) It’s okay to have bad days.

14) Don’t be afraid to push your limits and don’t let yourself be pressured to ignore them.

15) Always. Keep. Trying.

16) When you take the time to really get to know yourself it’s easier to introduce that person to other people.

17) When you love yourself it’s even easier.

18) You are capable of great things.

19) You deserve great things.

20) One of your greatest responsibilities in your life is to fail and make mistakes.

21) You are completely and totally loved.

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Love you, and happy birthday! heavy-black-heart_2764

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Congratulations & Thanks, Little Brother

Yesterday my little brother graduated high school.

*takes a moment to process this*

At 5 o’clock, the school staff ushered us in single file. I walked passed smiling siblings and proud fathers and anxious mothers; aunts and uncles and cousins and teachers; girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends. I knew almost none of them, and yet I knew how they felt when they woke up in the morning, and I knew how they felt walking in the school gates that afternoon. We all shared the same look in our eyes. We all had those smiles that were hard to suppress. We were all so proud.

For me, it was strange more than emotional. As the ceremony started and tissues were shuffled through the audience, I couldn’t help but sit silent, thinking. How is it, I thought, How is it that the infant who used to laugh when I tickled him, the toddler who used to call me “Supergirl”, the boy who used to wake up early to watch me play video games on Saturday mornings, and the teenager who used to ask me for a ride to karate class, how is it that they’d all grown up into this man that stood before me in a cap and gown? How had they become someone I look up to, that makes me laugh, that is my own personal superhero?

As the name of each student began to be called, cheers came in bursts around the audience. Families and friends stood and shouted, hoping to showcase their pride and spread it outward. We were no different. When my brother’s name was called we waved our fists and wooed our “woos”, hoping to let my brother know we were proud of him, and to let the crowd he was ours. And as dozens of other families followed suit, I began to realize why I didn’t feel sad so much as dizzy.

Yes, it was crazy to think that my baby brother, the boy who, over the years, has led people to believe he was my son (which we took advantage of and pulled pranks), my stepbrother (which made no sense because we are essentially the same human), and—after a colossal growth spurt—my boyfriend (which, ew), this boy was graduating high school and could now legally drive, vote, and serve jury duty. Yes, this was off-putting, but not sad. For I had known the baby who grew into a boy who grew into a teenager and then into a man, and seeing him take this next step forward was like accepting an invitation to meet the man he will soon become.

So as the caps began to fly, my heart began to swell. The dizziness had been overtaken by anticipation. I walked through the crowd to find my brother and gave him a big hug, anxious to tell him of all the things I know he’s yet to accomplish. I wished him “congratulations” but what I really meant was “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and thank you for offering me a front row seat to watch you conquer it. May the future only hold good things for you, crazy things, preferably things that include pizza and In N Out Burger. May you always be brave enough to be yourself and kind enough to let others do the same. May you never stop letting me call you Bub, and may we never stop taking this picture.

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