1. She taught you how to systematically dodge your parent’s rules. If she wanted to throw a party—but obviously couldn’t just ask if she could throw a party—she would tell Mom and Dad that she was going to have a few friends over for dinner. Mom and Dad felt comforted that she was honest. They would never know of course that a “few” friends for “dinner” was code for many friends for dinner plus drinks plus dancing plus drunk teenagers passing out on our living room floor.
2. She warmed you up to the teachers she had already had. “Ohhh, you’re so-and-so’s sibling!” your teachers would say with a smile and a nod of unofficial favoritism.
3. She prepped you on the dire process of applying to colleges so you had a sense of what it would be like when it was your turn.
4. She toughened you up. After years of her hurtful comments and teasing, any insults friends or bullies aimed at you bounced off your skin like rubber. No one throws a jab like an older sister.
5. She taught you about the strange and confusing world of girls. Her seemingly random melodramatic outbursts and her insistence to have three of her gal pals sleep over every Friday night might have been super annoying, but at least you gained more of a grasp on lady behavior before you either had to deal with it yourself or deal with those who were dealing with it. Younger sisters would be thrown into a shark tank when older guy friends came over, and younger brothers would either sink or swim around a big sister’s female friends.
6. She would claim that she hated your guts, but she always had your back. If anyone messed with you, she messed with them.
7. She was always your teammate in the ever-occurring battle between you and your parents. Who else could help you concoct a plan to convince Mom and Dad to get a puppy?
8. Her insights on the mental processes of the teenage female brain were mind-blowing. She could tell you exactly why this girl was flirting with you but still hadn’t asked you to the dance (she wants you to make the first move, of course!) and she could tell you exactly why this boy was always picking on you at lunch and in class (he likes you, duh!).
9. She always had stellar advice on how to ask out someone out and how to confess your feelings to your secret crush.
10. She knew what was cool, so you were automatically in the loop of the current trends, before it had even hit your age group yet.
11. She showed you what it was like to be in a relationship. Spending so much time with someone else seemed a little bizarre, but also fun. It made you wonder when you would have a significant other for your very own.
12. She showed you what it was like to go through a breakup. It seemed awful—tears and tears and more tears. It seemed the farthest thing from fun. It made you hope you never went through one as bad as that, but if you did, you would know that it happens to the best of us.
13. She showed you that it’s normal to feel odd and awkward and confused as you grow up. Puberty happens to everyone, apparently.
14. Your parents were just easier on you. They went through everything with your older sister—a broken curfew, not calling to check in, attending a coed sleepover—so nothing you did was that shocking. By the time you hit puberty, your parents realized that there were some things that were bound to happen and they learned to be a lot more lax about certain rules. (This, of course, made your older sister resentful like no other, but somebody’s got to be the guinea pig.)
15. She was a point of interest to your friends, which made you a bit more interesting by default. Your girl friends wanted to talk to her, see her room to get a vibe for how an older woman lived, and thrived on her “cool older girl opinions.” Your guy friends wanted to chat her up, peek inside her room, maybe test out a joke or a line they had heard on TV, and dreamed about getting any sort of “cool older girl approval”.
16. Your sister’s boyfriend kind of became your pal, so you had an automatic “in” with some of the older boys at school, and, let’s be honest, any sort of leg up in high school was life-changing.
17. She taught you how to be confident. She was never afraid to be herself, and proved that you shouldn’t be either.