I may not remember this, but our home videos and our parents seem to unanimously agree that you were the first person to make me laugh. You spent hours trying to teach me things because you wanted me to see how exciting the world was and all it has to offer. You read me books, you shared your chicken nuggets, and you didn’t laugh at me when I had popsicle juice dripping down my face on all those summer days. Although by nature you were a built-in companion, you didn’t have to become a best friend, a mentor and a role model for me.
Whether it was intentional or not, you made me believe in the made-up stories we would tell each other at night with both of our heads at the foot of our beds so we could hear each other better. You showed me that failure was not finite and that when you fall down, you may have to bounce really hard to get back up, but you have to get back up. You let me know that I was never in this alone — this bad week, this hard class, this stressful year or this life. In retrospect, all of the times you picked on me, got annoyed with me or were too embarrassed to be seen with me fade into a distant hazy memory because all of those actions are overshadowed with my endless gratitude that you were put on this world to be my older sibling.
Thank you for all of the times you let me confide to you.
I know over the years you got an earful of me complaining about how I hated school at times, how I didn’t get what I wanted for my birthday and how I couldn’t believe Mom made us turn off the television and go to sleep early even though Spongebob was still on. You listened to my innocent and irrational fears of divorce, death and disaster when I was hardly old enough to comprehend any of them and hardly lived long enough to experience them either. You let me cry to you when my best friend left me, when my boyfriend hurt me and when life became too much to handle. You may not have had an older sibling to be your rock, but I hope I at least reciprocated the same care and concern to you as possible.
Thank you for sparking my imagination.
From my earliest memories, know that they are filled with only laughs and creative thinking because of you. It is common for young children to have friends, but an older sibling becomes a partner. Together we made pretend worlds where we were master chefs, pop stars, actors and animals, and we spoke silly languages that only we understood. With you by my side, we would turn an empty hotel room with nothing but basic cable and a closet into the most fun weekend of our lives. Now as a young adult, this imagination you bestowed within me allows me to tap into that little child again and appreciate the hidden gems in life. You taught me there is no excuse to ever be bored.
Thank you for giving me tough love when I needed it.
As much as I didn’t enjoy hearing it at the time, thank you for the reality checks and reminding me to grow up, face my own problems and take control of my own life. Thank you for letting me know I was investing my time and energy into the wrong types of people. Thank you for not letting me quit just when times get hard. Thank you for reminding me that you did the same thing at one point.
Thank you for failing first.
Your mistakes paved the road for your success, and this taught me that my mistakes would do the same. Thank you for messing up so that maybe I’d save the heartbreak and learn from it. Thank you for doing poorly in a class so I could see that education is one of the most important things we can take advantage of in life. Thank you for being friends with the wrong people so I could self-reflect and realize I was, too. Thanks for taking those initial older-sibling blows from our parents, and know that I would have done the same for you.
Thank you for showing me what success is.
After you failed, you got up. You did not wallow in self pity or get eaten up by self loathing. You did not become self-destructive and helpless. You stood up straighter, thought deeper, spoke slower and took a bite out of life. You are not perfect — nobody is — but I strive every day to be a little more like you. You went out into the real world before I did, you took on those harder classes, those longer days and those lonely nights first. You welcomed in responsibility, growth and maturity with a warm smile and showed me that growing up isn’t scary; it’s empowering. I would not be reaching for the stars and beyond if it weren’t for you showing me that it was even possible. Your accomplishments may make a professor, parent or boss proud, but they will never impact anyone more than they impact me.
Thank you for showing me kindness is everywhere.
This world is harsh. College is competitive, jobs are stressful, and throughout life people will show that their true colors may not be so pretty. My ultimate and biggest thanks goes to you for always exuding eternal optimism that the world is beautiful and rewarding just as long as we look at it the right way. You have the closest genetic makeup to me than anyone in the entire world, and yet you are also the one who showed me that being different is okay. Especially as a college student, you taught me that even though temptation and influences will always lurk around me, it doesn’t matter what I do as long as it is what makes me happy. You taught me that I never should feel alone because there’s always someone on the street to smile at, there’s always a bird to listen to, and there’s always a role model to aspire to be. Little did you know that that role model is you.
You saw me go from Huggies diapers to a high school diploma, and you’ll continue to watch me from your slightly over-protective eye. Thousands of miles away or in the room down the hall, I know that you will always be my permanent person to turn to through all of life’s tumultuous turns. You’ll hear about the good, the bad and all of the in-betweens from me, but first and foremost I hope you hear this: thank you.
Photo Credit: Jenna Horowitz