As I write this you’re on your way home from a one week “solo adventure” where you did nothing but exactly what makes you happy. I don’t mean to get sappy, but as your big sister you have no idea how proud/inspired/happy this makes me feel. While I always try to be the best example for you that I can be, what you may not know is that you’re an increasingly amazing example for me.
I know I haven’t always been the best big sister. Our 6 year age gap meant that I went through my crappy teenage phase during the years where you yearned most for a relationship with me. You were my mini-me (still are – quit stealing my look) yet I ignored you for so much of the time we could have actually spent together. Gladly, I grew out of it, and gladly, you forgave me for it. My time with you now is some of the most valuable time I have and you’re one of my best friends.
Like any great relationship, our friendship and sisterhood has taught me a lot. You’re going to be 20 next month and for someone your age, you seriously have your shit together. As the big sister, aren’t I the one that’s supposed to have my shit together, leading by example? Sometimes I like to sit back and learn from you instead of the other way around.
Being your big sister is one of my favorite roles. I have a built in best friend for life. I have someone to call at any hour of the day to talk to about everything or nothing. You’re my shoulder to cry on and that person who nudges me to do what I really want, without letting fear get in the way. And you’ve already taught me SO much.
You teach me to live a life true to myself. I admire that you follow your passions and dreams and take risks. You don’t really care what people think of you and your decisions because if they make you happy, then why NOT do them? You aren’t afraid to voice your opinion or take risks and as a result, good things tend to come to you naturally even when you change course. You exude confidence in what you do and how you do it, and I so admire you for it. You’re a little more adventurous and a little less afraid – maybe this stems from being the younger one – you benefited by witnessing my mistakes and triumphs early on. Lucky.
You teach me how to take care of people. When you came along my instinct to take care of you and protect you was totally natural and I feel it now more than ever. You’re about to enter your 20s and while you’re making things happen for yourself I know that inevitably I can’t protect you from everything. But you can bet your butt I’ll be there for you every step of the way.
You also teach me that I don’t always have to be the caretaker. As we both get older, we only get closer. I share things with you that I don’t share with anyone else, and I can count on you to always cheer me up when I’ve had a bad day, or cheer me on when I’m contemplating a change and need a little push. I’m amazed at how great you are at taking care of ME.
You’ve also taught me about what’s really important. For me, that’s time with the people I love and care about, and time spent doing things that bring me fulfillment and happiness – like my art, and writing, reading, being outside, etc. The time we spend together is always full of the good stuff – laughing and eating and being active and okay – snuggling with Bally because who can resist? You don’t expect me to do certain things or be a certain way. Like any relationship, the big sister little sister one takes work. And with both of us entering our adult years, I’ve realized that there is little more important than time together in our relationship. I’m so thankful for any of it that we can soak up.
Lastly, you teach me that it’s okay to let go a little. Being the big sister is an important job. I know I have someone in my life looking to me for guidance and a glimpse of what the future and adulthood look like, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best role model. I’m the uptight and more anxious one of us, but you always find a way to ground me. You know nobody is perfect and have no problem reminding me of that. You accept it yourself. You let yourself dwell on the crappy stuff a little bit, then take action or make it better or simply move on.
As you return from your trip – which I know was amazing and incredible – I hope you’ll realize that the time you spent discovering things about yourself has also caused me to reflect on the things you’ve taught me about myself. You inspire more than you know and you’re always teaching me new things or showing me a new way to solve an old problem.
Being a good big sister to you takes work. But I’ve never felt luckier.
Your big sister