To all the sisters out there,
I am writing to you as both a big sister and a little sister. I am the second of four siblings–one older sister, a young sister, and a younger brother. To give you a little context for this letter, my little sister turned eighteen years old this past month and we celebrated her debut a few days ago. I had the honor of creating the slideshow as well as photographing the event. I have to say, both projects brought up a lot of emotions. There were so many pictures of her as a baby that I came across that made me feel nostalgic and genuinely sad because we are never going to be kids again. No matter how hard we try to be kids we will never be kids! And I have to say that still gives me anxiety as a grown adult, but I digress.
The reason for this letter is I wish I had understood the magnitude of what it means to be a sister–both younger and older. So for those sisters out there reading this letter, I wanted to write about a few of the things on being a sister I wish I had known sooner.
- If you’re an older sister and you have a younger sister, your younger sister loves, respects, and worships the hell out of you–until you give her a reason not to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying your sister’s love is conditional but what I am saying is Do not take your little sister’s love for granted. Your little sister is looking to you for direction and guidance–and possibly a blueprint for who she might want to be when she gets older. As two females who have been thrust into this sibling relationship, it is so so important that we learn to uplift, fight for, and advocate for our sisters whenever necessary. There are so many times I could have been there for my little sister but I let my own internal battles get in the way. Which leads me to my next point…
- Do not let your internal battles get in the way. Yes, I understand this is better said than done, but seriously it is important. For me, growing up as a gay kid who didn’t quite fully understand what “gay” even meant there was a lot of hurt and anguish that I had to really sort through and because I felt alone and scared I decided to lash out and take my anger out on everyone around me–including my little sister. I sometimes sit here and wonder if there was a point when she, as a kid, asked herself what went wrong–and it kills me. I let my own hurt affect the relationship my little sister and I had and it seriously hurts me everyday. Of course, it isn’t mentally healthy for me to sit and wallow in the past because I can’t change that. What I can change is what our relationship is now. Our relationship is getting a lot better now (Angela if you’re reading this… I LOVE YOU! :D!)
- If you’re a little sister and you have an older sister, know this: Your older sister will nag you, punk you, and tell you what to do… but at the end of the day she has your back more than anyone else will ever have your back. Seriously. Ladies. Listen to me. I have been a sh*tty little sister
at timesso many times–my ate (Tagalog for “big sister”;pronounced “ah-teh”) can attest to that. Big sisters will protect their little sisters against literally anything and everything. Yes moms can be momma bears but I’m telling you, if I had to have someone in my corner for a fight I’d probably pick my older sister–and not because I don’t think my mom could handle her own, because let it be known she can. I’d pick my sister because I think a sister’s wrath is way different than a mother’s. A mother’s wrath is very very scary, but moms are usually far in age from their babies they can’t actually meet your enemies at the bleachers, you feel me? I’m pretty sure I was cool in high school and no one messed with me simply because my sister was who she was. Haha! So the lesson here is: Big sisters have a (self-professed) duty to protect their younger siblings as if they were her own children and she will do this until she doesn’t have to–which she will be always, so all us little sisters are stuck with them.
- There is no one who will understand your parents more than your own siblings. Siblings, if nothing else, ground you in your own sanity by agreeing when your parents are being crazy or unreasonable–and, more importantly, when your parents are making absolute sense and you’re being stubborn. As the second sibling of four, I can’t imagine a life without my siblings. They are seriously my first loves and I would do anything for them–including calling them out when they need to be! And I would hope they would do the same for me. Check me before I wreck me.
- And last, but not least, the real reason for this open letter is this: In a time such as now, females are still being slut-shamed, raped, beat, and even killed simply because they are female. So get this… some people actually think we are of lesser value because of who we are as women. This is the reason for this letter and this is the reason why I work so hard to uplift the women around me–especially my sisters. As women we have to deal with enough bullsh*t simply because we are women that we cannot afford to hate each other. We can’t afford to let any of our sisters fall. We can’t afford to let any of our sisters doubt themselves. So, as sisters–both younger and older–we have a responsibility to show each other we are all here for one another. I know up until now I haven’t mentioned our brothers, but as an older sister to my younger brother… There is added value in being a strong woman when you have a younger brother–especially in light of this paragraph. Being a strong female role model who don’t take no sh*t is one way of making sure your brother doesn’t take part in the patriarchy and will, one day, help you tear it down 🙂
Being a sister taught me the importance of not only being a strong woman and owning who I am as a woman, but being sure to appreciate the strong women around me. With that, thank you for reading this far and take time to call your sister(s) today. Let them know you see them. Let them know you love them.
One thankful sister