Having never grown up with sisters, the closest I ever got was my 6 cousins. I’ve had the opportunity to be the annoying one, the concerned one, the funny one, the one who needed advice, the one who provided a shoulder to cry on, the one who showed up, dressed up, and messed up. Which I imagine is kind of what it’s like to be an older sister. If not I give you permission to stop reading this now.
As I’m sure the 6 of you know I just want to help, watch you grow, learn and be the successful and talented individuals I know and love. So like the kids say now a days, I’m about to drop some knowledge on you. Things I’ve learned along the way, now let me add a disclaimer here, in no way am I done learning, or claim to have it all figured out, but I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my fake sisterly duties if I didn’t act a little bit like a know it all. So I challenge you to read this entire note, take what you want, leave what you don’t, but I hope you find a little treasure chest of gold somewhere along the way.
1. Stop rushing everything
I couldn’t wait to grow up, to get my license, to be able to vote, to be able to drink, I just kept wishing time would go by faster. I needed to get to the next level of live, in the least amount of time, but I quickly came to realize life goes by way to fast to keep wishing and waiting for the next big thing to happen. Seize the day, make each and everyday count, and create a life that you love! I know you’ve heard it before, but seriously reflect on the last year even, notice how much has changed and how quickly it passed you by, appreciate the journey.
2. Love yourself and your body
This is so so important. Stop looking at instagram and the media, these people are not real, these people are not what you should idealize. We all have unique stories, experiences, quirks and strengths. That is what your family, friends and the people who love you the most know and see every time they look at you. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Don’t be so hard on yourself
This is something I am still working on. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves, so it’s easy to criticize, its easy to forget how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come and how much progress you’ve made when you look at yourself everyday in the mirror, but know that you are doing the best you can and things take time. Changes are gradual, so work hard, stay motivated, and understand that results don’t come over night. A good best practice, take note of the things you love about yourself, the stuff you’re good at. And don’t tell me there’s nothing, we all have our strengths, so instead of being your own biggest critic be your own biggest cheerleader! I’ll be one for you too.
4. Work hard and don’t settle
It’s true that good things come to those who work hard, are patient, and enjoy the journey, but it’s also true that if you want something bad enough sometimes you just have to go for it. If you think you deserve something, and have rightfully earned it, then by all means why not go for it, but don’t burn bridges getting there. It’s all about having the right attitude, respecting the process, and being driven enough to get to where you want to be. Again appreciate the process, not everything is going to go your way so accept failure just as much as success. Learn from it, better yourself, and take note on what you are good at as well as what other people say you’re good at it. Chances are it’s a combination of the two, use it as a starting point and strengthen your abilities from there.
5. Spend time, lots of time, with your friends no matter who they are
Too many times we are shamed into spending all of our time with our girlfriends, and if we have guy best friends are accused of being a flirt, or said to choose guys over our girls. Truth be told spend time with the people who support you, challenge you, and make you laugh. I don’t care who that is, life is too short not to spend time with genuinely good people. Notice how I didn’t say spend all your time with your significant other, you’re young, you’re exploring, everything is new and change is constant. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, give your time and energy to those who deserve it, but don’t let one person monopolize it. If it’s meant to be, it will be, regardless of the amount of time spent together. Not to mention it’s healthy for your relationship to spend time apart and gain different perspectives.
6. Always choose family
Let me clarify this by saying, if you have a great family who is supportive, loves you, is good to you and has provided for you, then always choose family. Choose the people who always believe in you, want the best for you and have invested their time and energy in you. They are the ones who deserve your time.
7. Appreciate what you have and say thank you often
This is something I wish I had learned earlier. Yes I know our parents tell it to us all the time, so I know at this point you’re rolling your eyes at me, but it’s one thing to listen, it’s entirely different to internalize. So let me continue, we are privileged. We have an amazing family, a network of people who have our backs, challenge us to be better versions of ourselves, pick us up when we fall, have guided us, loved us, and provided for us. We live in good homes, we have had the opportunity to continue our education, to go on amazing trips, and to be in the presence of genuine, reliable, extraordinary people. Not everyone gets that, and that’s not even the half of it. So recognize, appreciate, and say thank you often. We are doing the best we can, but so are our parents and families who have worked their asses off to get where they are.
8. Lastly, be kind, to everyone, including yourself
Kindness is underrated and I’ll be the first to admit I have my moments of unkindness, but ultimately kindness wins. Be good, do good, feel good. Easy enough right? We don’t know everyone’s story, so lend a helping hand when you can, compliment often, and spread kindness around like confetti.
I’ll finish by saying I am proud of each and every one of you. You have passions, ambitions, unique stories, beautiful souls and I am beyond happy to call you all family. Continue to inspire those around you, just as you inspire me everyday, and remember we’re all in this together.
You’re annoying, caring, and a bit overbearing, older cousin.