Twenty-Two: Make It Up As You Go Along

Dear Zoe and Talia,

Several months ago, I wrote “Twins Birthday Letter” in my planner so I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to sit and write to you. I’m happy to report that I began this post six days earlier than I have the last two years, though it remains to be seen if it makes a difference or not to the finished product. My guess? It will not. (Edited to add: This post took a while to finish. As in, I’ll probably be tweaking it this morning).

It’s 2024, which means this is birthday number twenty-two, and you both graduate from college in May. (What? How? Didn’t we just drop you off at preschool yesterday?!?) I don’t know if the number of years itself is the problem—twenty-two sure seems like a lot, even though I clearly have more years on you—or if it’s the idea of your graduation, but somehow, I feel a little extra pressure to make this letter spectacular. Like this year represents you leaving the nest a little more fully. Like you’ll be considered mature adults as you navigate finding jobs and establishing yourselves in the world. Like I should pass on more wisdom than I might in any other year.

You and I both know that my wisdom–any that I have–comes from experience. Last year, I imparted fifty-five pieces of advice I wanted you to know (and I had to stop myself there; I could have listed far more advice than I did). What you might not know is that most of the time, I’m making things up as I go along.

Yes, you read that right: I make it all up as I go.

Do you know what that means? If I’m working, and someone asks me something, and I’m not sure exactly what the answer is, I admit that to them, and I give it my best shot. Or if you ask me a question about life, love, and anything else, I think about what I’ve experienced, and I give it my best shot. Life is a set of experiences, and that set is the absolute best teacher around. The key is to learn from those experiences and apply them down the line.

In my mind, there’s at least one thing that’s required for being able to do that successfully, and that’s confidence in yourself. So know this, my wee beasts: You know more than you think you do, and you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for. Furthermore, you have the intellect and work ethic to do anything you want, if you want it enough.

Write an article about birds? You can do it.

Take up the practice of running? You can do it.

Get in to your favored graduate school program? You can do it.

Find a job you love? You can do it.

Learn a new language? You can do it.

Face the fear of graduating college and being out on your own and not knowing if what you’re doing is the right thing? Yep, you can do that too.

You might say, how do you know we can do this? What makes you so sure? And I have an answer for you!

First, I’m confident in who you are and your capabilities. I’m not asking you to lie when I say “make it up.” I’m telling you to trust yourself, trust that even if you’re not sure of the proper protocol or direction, you can figure it out. Second, your father and I will be here to help if you need it, and we’re just two of a good number of folks who will help if asked (sometimes, even if we’re not!). And at the end of the day, trusting your support system—especially one you’re familiar with—is crucial. (And might I mention how lucky you are to have such a support system?)

So on this day of your birth, I want you to be confident in who you are and what you can do. Go enjoy yourself. Study hard but take time to relax. Eat a cookie or piece of chocolate or slice of pie or handful of chips. Snuggle in with the Nugget and Millie and KitKat and Pilot (and maybe S and P too). Watch a movie or take a walk. Just know that no matter what you do today, tomorrow, or in the future, I love you!

Happy Birthday, Zoe and Talia. I hope your day is one to remember!

Image by Dirk Mathienz from

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