Dear little sister,
When you came into this world 23 years, 22 days, 11 hours and a few minutes ago, I was only 2. I don’t remember the day it happened, but it was the beginning of May. And not only did you change my summer, but you changed my life - forever. In the best way possible.
Throughout the past two decades we’ve weathered storms together, gotten in trouble together, partied together, we’ve sang, cried, laughed, pinched, poked, probably even hit each other. But we’ve done it all together, as a team, as a pair.
And as we’ve grown up together I must say - you’ve always been steadfastly loyal and unpredictably cool, not to mention hilarious and astoundingly humble. Because as we all know I like the attention and you’re more than happy to give it to me. When in reality - you’re the life of every party.
I’m writing you this letter today, not as a testament to the person, the woman, you’ve become, but because this graduation day marks the ending of a chapter and the beginning of a new life. The safety net, the path you’ve been on – it’s about to swerve and you might need a little guidance. So here's a little unsolicited advice:
At this moment you don’t have to have everything figured out, because no one does. Just remember to do what makes you happy, but please don’t be stupid. Enjoy the little things in life, explore and smile at the silly things, capture small moments in your mind so that you can look back on them and smile.
Learn to love yourself, every flaw - and learn to let yourself be loved. It can be hard to let others in. But by doing so, you will become a better person. Additionally, there will be moments you feel like a disappointment, a failure, not accepted or completely misunderstood. I’ve been there. Know that you will never be any of those things in my eyes and it doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
Let yourself be broken. There will be moments where life isn’t the crazy, keg party it was in college. Life can be chaotic and crappy. It’s okay to cry, I have tissues and you have both of my shoulders. I know pain is excruciating, but realize it’s fleeting and brokenness leads to growth.
Know that you are your own person. Know that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. You don’t need to have a certain dream, it’s okay to have many. Just have faith in your journey, even when it feels as if you don't have one.
You have no idea how many people are pressured into lives that they don't actually want to lead. Don't be afraid to lead your own, as long as you are making positive choices. I will support you fully. Do you want to be an actress? a psychiatrist? a nurse? Knock yourself out. I wish I could say dreams don't take work, but the truth is they are a labor of love. And a lot of the time you won't get paid for following your dreams. Follow them anyways. Follow them on weekends, weeknights and the moments that it would be easier to give up.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give you is to learn from my mistakes. And I think we can agree that I’ve made plenty. Save your money, make time for friendships and never, ever settle.
Then of course – we can't forget Mom and Dad.
Remember to thank them for everything they’ve taught you, for everything they’ve instilled in you, for every moment they believed in you. For they taught us to love, not with a fair weather love, but with a love that cherishes and accepts unconditionally. They’ve taught us to meet others with awareness and respect. They’ve taught us to be courteous, to be bold, to live life to the fullest. They’ve taught us to meet each new experience with joy and anticipation. They’ve taught us to work for what we believe in, but positively within a structure of order and reason. But most importantly – they’ve taught us to laugh, to dance, and to sing. There is a lot in life that is hard but they’ve taught us to take it as it comes and find the good in every situation.
I also want to take this time to thank you.
Thank you for the laughs you’ve given me – when I’ve found it hard to smile.
Thank you for covering for me and not judging me, in moments when it was easy to.
Thank you for being my partner in crime on family vacations, for encouraging me to follow my dreams, for looking up to me when I didn’t deserve it.
Thank you for being the yin to my yang. As a pair we bring out the best in each other.
Thank you for being a sounding board - on outfits, boys, and big life choices.
Thank you for being you. For showing me that life doesn't have to be hardcore. That it's okay to have fun.
You grew up amazing, you know. What you want to do, you study and you master. You have an innate artistic skill, not something to ever be overlooked. The world through your lens and your eye - just makes sense. You have the ability to give advice beyond your years, a trait so rare and precious, I hope you never lose it. You have a heart of gold. Your empathetic nature is one to be admired. In many ways - I look up to you.
So cheers! I am raising a glass to you! As you enter the next chapter of your life, whatever it entails - I wish for you, the following:
Comfort on the difficult days.
Smiles when sadness intrudes.
Rainbows to follow the clouds.
Sunsets to warm your heart.
Friendships to brighten your soul.
Beauty for your eyes to see.
Confidence for when you are in doubt.
Courage to know yourself.
Patience to accept the truth.
And love to complete your life.
So take a leap of faith. I’ll be here to catch you if you fall.