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Dad Took 14 Years and 2 Failed Careers to Write This Letter

Photograph by Twenty20

James Breakwell is known as the funniest dad on Twitter. His hilarious tweets as @XplodingUnicorn often feature brutally honest conversations he has with his four daughters, ages 7 and under. But recently, Breakwell shared a more solemn letter that was 14 years and two failed careers in the making. His words had us crying—not, for once, because they were funny but because they were moving and inspirational.

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How did I find space in my house for four kids? Easy. My children are stackable.

The 32-year-old dad finally mailed the letter last week, along with a copy of his first book, "Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse," to someone named Chris. You see, years ago, after Breakwell spoke at his high school graduation, a classmate's parent had asked him for a signed copy of that speech.

"When I asked why, you said you thought I would be something some day," Breakwell wrote to Chris. "You might not remember making that request. In fact, I’m sure you don’t. And if I asked you where that signed copy of my speech is today, you’d give me the same answer I give when my kids ask what happened to their old artwork that used to be on the fridge."

But the short moment was a life-changing one for Breakwell. He silently vowed to write a book and to give Chris the first signed copy. Now, more than a decade later, the dad finally found a publisher who believed in him just as much as Chris did when he was a teen.

"This is that signed book. I’d love to tell you I became a success like you predicted, but the truth is this modest book might be as far as I ever make it. But at least I got far enough to fulfill a silent promise you didn’t even know about, and to me, that means everything in the world," Breakwell wrote. "Thanks for believing in me before anyone else did. Sorry it didn’t earn you a better book."

Photograph by James Breakwell

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Someone else also inspired me to write this book: You. Yes, YOU. You're on the dedication page, right below my wife and kids. (Check the link in my bio to read a free charpter of the book you inspired.)

All it can take is a stranger's kind words to help young people believe in themselves, just as Chris did for Breakwell. So, show some deliberate acts and words of kindness today, whether it's by helping a stressed-out new mom at the store checkout or handwriting a letter to a grandparent.

In the meantime, here are a few of Breakwell's gems that continue to make us laugh when we most need it.

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