I’m 29.

Today is a special birthday: It is a crossroads. An opportunity to see the next decade approaching over the horizon while still being firmly planted in the current one.

When I was 19, I couldn’t wait to be a twenty-something. I was tired of being limited in my autonomy, given that I was legally or culturally underage for many adult rituals. I had a seat at the table, but I couldn’t yet participate. I knew that my 20s would bring an end to this emasculation and I was eager to see how my relationship with adults would change as the barrier of childhood melted away.

Little did I know that I was woefully unprepared for autonomy. I did not consider the weight of responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose. My 20s did bring the things that I hoped for at 19, but my immaturity forced me to pay a premium for them early on.

I am grateful for these lessons. They were the extra-strength medicine I needed to burn away the cancerous insecurities that germinated in my teens. They cleared the path for me to start becoming the adult I hoped to become.

Despite the changes and growth, I’m grateful that some things stay constant. I’m still unrelenting in my pursuit of excellence. I’m still happiest pursuing personal greatness — individually or as part of a high-functioning team — especially when I know it’s in the service of impacting lots of lives for the better. I still believe that I can have an outsized influence on making some corner of the world better than I found it.

At 29, I’m excited for my thirties in large part because I spent so much of my twenties preparing for them. I am excited to see what kind of leader I become — as a professional and possibly as a husband or father.

And yet, I know there will be hard lessons too. The work is never complete when it comes to the insecurities. Yesterday’s breakthrough is often replaced with today’s new breakdown.

Most importantly I am grateful that my relationships are a continued source of stability and growth. My passion easily drives me to impatience and I am often the recipient of grace and gentility when I need it most, but deserve it least. Sometimes it is a patient ear and a few delicately chosen words. Other times, it is someone fanning the flames in a productive direction. These moments are the bricks that bridge me from who I am being to who I could be. They are miniature forks in the road — opportunities to take the path less traveled — and they have made all the difference.

So today is your day as much as it is mine, because any quality or achievement that is worth celebrating is credited to you.

Thank you.

I hope to do you proud. This decade and the next.

-TC (8.15.16)