On My Little Sister's 16th Birthday, 16 Presents Of Advice

On My Little Sister's 16th Birthday, 16 Presents Of Advice

"It’s all about you girl, on your 16th birthday." — Boys Who Cry

This week, my little sister is turning 16-years-old.

It is so hard to believe. I still remember her as being at least a foot shorter than me with a gap between her two front teeth and wanting to shop at Justice whenever we went to the mall.

Turning 16 years old is a milestone, one of the most major ones of the teenage years.

So, my little sissy, this is for you.

1. Get involved.

Now is the time of your life to join random clubs or groups. It is the time to explore all of the possibilities of things that interest you.

Do not hold back. Just go for it.

2. You are way cooler than any boy.

Yes, it is a novelty to have a boyfriend at this time in your life. You might see your life revolving around him. Please remember that you are so much cooler than any boy. One day, you will find a great guy who lacks drama and other negative things.

3. Do not give in to peer pressure.

During this time, maybe your friends are trying new things and want you to try them, too. However, if you are uncomfortable doing something and do not want to do it, then do not do it.

4. Tell Mom and Dad that you appreciate them.

I am sure they might be a bit tougher on you now that I am away at college and not home all of the time. However, they have your best interests at heart. They care about you more than anything in the world. Tell them how much you appreciate and love them; that will make them so happy.

5. Our dogs know everything.

Honestly, if our dogs do not like somebody, chances are they probably are not worth liking for some reason. Listen to the puppers.

6. Eat a cookie (or two or three or four).

Food is something meant to be enjoyed. No food is inherently “good” or “bad.” If you want something, do not deprive yourself of it. Learn from my mistakes here.

7. Learn from my mistakes.

You saw me through my worst relationship and my hardest classes. You saw how I handled myself or, sometimes, how I lacked on taking proper care of myself. Please learn from my mistakes. No need to repeat the past.

8. Talk about yourself.

We are often taught to be modest and to not brag about ourselves. However, if you are proud of yourself, share it. You deserve to feel that pride. You deserve to feel happy.

9. It is OK not to be OK.

For some reason, I thought that I always needed to portray a facade of happiness and optimism even when I was at my lowest points. It is perfectly OK to not feel OK and it is perfectly OK to show that.

10. Please know your worth.

You are so intelligent, beautiful, hilarious, and have so many other positive attributes going for you. Do not settle or let anyone trample over you; you are worth so much more than that.

11. Call people on the phone.

Stop Snapchatting and texting everything. Give someone a phone call or even a call via Skype. It is so much more personal. You will create so many more memories from hour-long phone calls than you will from Snapchatting pictures of your latest meal.

12. Embrace fear.

Yes, life is scary. The future is ominous. However, if you do not take chances, you will not get where you want to. Take a chance and face the fear.

13. Drink water.

Yes, it sounds stupid, but it is something that I am so bad at. Keep a water bottle in your backpack and drink it. Then fill it up and drink it again. And again. And again.

14. Thank God.

It is easy to get caught up in life, but always remember to pray to and talk to God.

15. Do what you want to do.

Do not base your decisions in life on other people's’ happiness. The main person who you need to make happy is you.

16. You can always turn to me.

You know how we always say "sissys by chance, besties by choice"? Well, I mean it. I will always be here for you, no matter what. You will never be alone.

Cover Image Credit: Amanda Topolski

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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When You Are The Youngest Of 6 Kids

Having five older siblings is the greatest blessing I could have ever asked for. I get best friends for life.


I am probably one of the luckiest people on the planet because I have so many brothers and sisters. I have three brothers and two sisters. I'm the youngest of the six, so I have had a pretty interesting experience growing up with a big family.

My oldest brother is ten years older than me. All of my siblings were born in the 90s and I wasn't, but I wanted to fit in with them. I had to make sure I watched the same TV shows and movies that they did so I could relate to them. I tried to play the same games that they played, such as SEGA and Nintendo. I was not very good at any of them, but I was just happy to be with my siblings.

Going to school was always interesting because I always had a teacher that one or more of my siblings already had. Every year in school from 1st grade to 12th grade, I always heard, "Oh, I had a few of your siblings." Then, for the rest of the year, my teachers would slip up every once in a while and call me one of my sisters' names. I understood, though, because all of us look alike, so I would just go along with it and act like that was my name.

With my sisters, the three of us look like triplets, even though we are years apart. I get called Jess or Jen a lot by my parents. By process of elimination, they eventually figure out my name. I'm used to it as I respond to anyone who calls me by one of my sister's names.

Being the youngest, I get to see all my brothers and sisters accomplish many things. I watch what they do and learn from it. The problem for me has always been that all of my siblings are brilliant. I have always had to live up to the standards that my siblings set. It hasn't always been easy.

It can be frustrating because anyone that knows my brothers and sisters will automatically compare me to them in terms of intelligence. For example, I took AP Statistics in high school. I knew my teacher had a few of my siblings who were very bright and did well in that class. My teacher probably thought I was an idiot because I struggled in that class.

I have to try and prove to people that I am my own person and that I am just related to really smart people.

I never needed to worry about friends at school because, at the end of the day, I always had my five best friends at home. When we were all younger, we had our own sleepovers and parties, and we played games all the time.

Whenever I needed help with homework, I had my own free tutors at home who were willing to help me understand algebra and biology. Even in college, I still go to them when I need help with an assignment.

They took care of me when I was younger whenever my parents were working. I had my other five parents who were ready to take care of me. They still take care of me today.

Now that I am an adult, I have had to start doing things for myself. It's kind of weird.

I always had everyone else do everything for me or with me. If I needed to go somewhere, they were my chauffeurs. If we went out to eat somewhere, they paid, but now I can drive myself around and pay for things with my own money.

At the end of the day, I have five best friends for life. For me, that is all I need.

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