Hi Baby Sis,

Happy Birthday! You're 18 and I can't even believe it. It seems like just yesterday we were sneaking out of our room during naptime and tapping our own morse code on the wall while we were supposed to be sleeping.

Through road trips, getting lost at the airport, two more kids, the loss of a grandparent, first relationships, college applications, and so much more, we've grown as our own individuals but, like any sisters, have remained intricately intertwined.

You've been on this planet for 18 years and I'm sure you've learned so much in that time. Some of the lessons I've been right alongside you and some, especially recently since I left for school, I've had to hear about over long-distance phone calls and periodic group texts.

You remind me so much of myself, busy, driven, overcommitted, but you're also a better person than I could ever be or ever hope to be. Mom and Dad would never admit it but we all know you're their favorite. Stanford was just the nail in that coffin and none of us can even dream of surpassing you now.

You've done so much and I'm so proud of you. You've found things you're passionate about, fallen in love, fallen out of love, journeyed off on your own, made your own mistakes, excelled at literally everything you try, from art to Special Olympics to calculus.

You stand up for what you believe in, even if you're standing alone (guess who the only member of the environmental club is?).

You're wise beyond your years and you even give me good advice (I thought I was supposed to be the older sister).

You're going to naturally excel at everything you try and I'm jealous but I'm also so proud and I can't wait to see everything you accomplish.

It's not going to be easy, I won't lie to you. Beginning to navigate adulthood and all the newfound responsibility and balancing everything is harder than I ever could have anticipated. Random things like having to pay for a plane ticket or a parking ticket or even just a concert ticket will knock you down sometimes.

And there will be other days when you have $4.62 in your bank account but you still really need a latte or when you know you should go to the gym but there's no one around to make you go so you stay in bed and watch Netflix instead.

Adulthood is full of choices. But I'm confident you'll know how to make the right ones.

And not only are you embarking on this whole "being an adult" journey but you're also about to start a whole new adventure, college. And even though we won't be together, we'll be close, which is amazing since we'll get to experience some of it together! I can't wait for the nights of Chinese food and frat parties and exploring our new home. It'll be just like when we were kids... except not, for obvious reasons.

So happy birthday, welcome to the adventure. I'm so glad I get to spend this day and the next two years with you exploring new things and revisiting old ones. Here's to many more years of naps and tattoos and overachievement and burnout and adventures that we'll have together.

(In the meantime, just try to stay out of big girl prison. You're old enough to go now.)

Happy birthday.

I love you.

Love,

Big Sis