Hey, Sister Sister: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Younger Sibling

I was born May 7, 1999. 


About 13 months later, on June 23, 2000, my time as an only child came to an end. It’s not like I remember any part of that time in my life, but from then on forward, my life was forever changed. 


For April 10, which is National Siblings Day, I thought I’d write a list of 10 things being an older sister has taught me.


1. Clothes are meant for sharing.

clothes Priscilla Du Preez

My sister and I have completely different styles. That is, when she’s not raiding my closet while I’m at school. Sure, it’s usually my less-than-valued clothes, which aren’t worth a spot in my suitcase, but it’s just funny to me that when the cat's away, the little sister will play… with all the belongings that she thinks I won’t notice when I come back. While this part of sisterhood can be frustrating, it has taught me to be flattered if someone wants to walk in your shoes—literally.


2. It’s okay to be angry.

I think one of the hardest parts of being an older sister is learning that it’s okay to be upset with your siblings sometimes. You’re given to each other as a built-in buddy, but there are times when I’d rather be (temporarily) buddy-less. Coming to terms with frustrations and then resolving issues with someone you’re “stuck” with for life has helped me practice that with people other than my sibling.


3. Courage comes in different sizes.

Because Zoe and I are so close in age, we were (almost) always in the same school. It was hard for her to break out of my shadow, but I commend her for blazing her own trail. When I swam, she was working behind-the-scenes for plays and musicals. When I excelled in English, she busted out mathematical miracles. Having distinctly different personalities from my sister with such a small age difference showed me the beauty in differences and brought us closer together—she helps me with equations, and I help her with essays.


4. Secrets are hard to keep.

blue notebook saying my secret plan to rule the world on cover with pink background Pexels / Ann H

Excluding the time Zoe read my diary, “borrowed it” and photocopied pages to give to our peers on the school bus in middle school, secrets between sisters run deep. She’s taught me that I’ll always have a confidant in her and her in me. 


5. Laugh often.

Friends Laughing B&W Anna Thetard / Her Campus

My sister is, without a doubt, one of the funniest people I know. Maybe it’s because she can so easily riff off the memories we have as children, but her antics and characters leave me LOL-ing. Zoe has taught me that laughter may be the best medicine, but it’s best administered by a sharp-as-a-whip sister like mine.


6. Actions speak louder than words.

I’m known in the household as the wordsmith. But with Zoe, she uses her quiet and constant nature of care to show me she loves me. Whether it’s offering to grab a bite to eat or just spending time together, she’s helped me realize that actions are just as powerful in showing love and care for someone.


7. Value little moments.

Going off the last point, some of my favorite times with Zoe come from doing absolutely nothing. She has shown me that memories don’t need to always be the result of being crazy adventurous… sometimes it comes from just being.


8. They may be cooler than you.

While I can pretend I’m the superior Hippensteel, Zoe is so supremely herself in everything she does. She’s got a killer taste in music—that I am growing to appreciate more and more—and a style all her own. And when people recognize that about her, it warms my heart because I’ve known it for a long, long time. 


9. Let them share themselves with you.

When Zoe has a newfound interest or passion, it bubbles to the surface like a vigorously shaken soda can… but it’s an explosion of the best kind. Being an older sister has taught me to appreciate when someone wants to let you into a piece of their life and show you what fills theirs with love, laughter and lightness.


10. You only get one.

So, this is not true for everyone, but it is for me. My parents, mainly my dad, who grew up with two sisters himself, always said this. “Be nice to your sister; you only get one.” As we both get older and grow more into ourselves, it’s now that I’ve been most grateful to have Zoe in my life… whether she knows or not.


This April 10 make sure to share some love with your siblings. They’re there to steal your clothes, annoy you and make you laugh. But most importantly, they’re there. So don’t take them for granted. 


P. S.: I love you, Zoe.