Looking back on your life, there are very few people that have been there through it all. Perhaps the most overlooked and forgotten members of that small group are our siblings, the brothers and sister who witnessed your day one or were the first few tiny humans you watched arrive into the world. If you take a moment to reflect, you can do nothing short of marvel at the uniqueness of the relationship between you and those that share your blood. So here are just eight things your should thank your siblings for, right now. Text them, call them, or tell them, because there is nothing quite like the love of a sister or brother.

1. Thank you for being my friend.

There’s a clichéd opener for you. I realize that this is a given in any posts about one’s siblings, but in all seriousness, without brothers and sisters teaching you how to love others, you might have been helplessly alone your entire life. Your siblings were forever your built-in playmates, go-to partners in crime, and comforters in strife. Through that original relationship of selflessness, you were not only blessed with an eternal pal but also given the skillset needed to approach any friendship in the future. And what’s more, as you grow and mature, your friendships change. If you look back on your relationships through the years they have probably been of vast variety. But your siblings are your constant, a friend for all seasons. Without them to guide you through each stage of life, you might have fallen flat on your face, so for that we are all grateful.

2. Thank you for teaching me how to fight.

In life, there is going to be conflict. It is inevitable that someday there will come a time that you’re having a casual conversation with someone you love, and somehow it will suddenly erupt into a fight in which both parties will be screaming at one another across the room, bewildered that the other doesn’t see how incredibly wrong they are. While some arguments are valid and based on a solid difference of world views, more often than not these little disagreements were unnecessary from the start. There is nothing wrong with conflict; in fact, it is healthy. Your relationship with your siblings isn’t determined by how often you fought, but rather how many times, no matter the situation, you chose to make up. In life, you aren’t forced to retain any relationship. At any point I am allowed to walk away from a friend, boyfriend, or acquaintance. But the beautiful thing about your siblings is the responsibility naturally engrained within you to keep that bond intact. Through the constant seesaw of brothers and sisters, you learned how to see arguments for what they were and how to put aside your feelings and apologize. You develop habits of treating others' opinions with respect. And most importantly, you accept that it’s always better to lose the fight than to lose the relationship.

3. Thank you for being my biggest cheerleader.

Whether it was a soccer game, dance recital, or band competition, your siblings have seen it all. While they were often dragged to these events against their will and forced to sit through them, there are very few things as comforting as looking up from third base with sweat pouring from your brow and seeing that spunky little version of you, clapping in the bleachers. There is nothing quite like receiving praise or seeing pride coming from your brother and sisters. No matter if you are the third saxophone to the left or the star of the show, you are the only person they see on stage.

4. Thank you for giving me friendly competition.

In one way or another, your siblings encouraged you to be greater versions of yourself. Sometimes that was through a healthy challenge posed by a need to be better than those around you. Sometimes that was simply through being incredible role models that you desired to live up to. Either way, the natural competitiveness that comes with any family dynamic created an environment in which you could constantly strive to do better. While working to beat them out, you also learned to accept that you can’t win them all, and it is your responsibility

to cheer on anyone and everyone who chooses to challenge themselves.

5. Thank you for giving me thick skin.

Let’s face it, the world can be a harsh place. There will come a time in third grade when the kid with no friends calls you fat, or in sixth grade when the popular girl makes fun of your acne, or in 11 th grade when the boy you like tells you that you’re ugly. At some point, another human in your life is going to make an active decision to say or do something just to directly hurt your feelings. While I in no way think this should be an inevitably for our generation, it simply is, but our siblings help us raise up defenses against these attacks throughout our lives. You see, your siblings are the first people that are allowed to make fun of you. And sometimes that’s good. You need to learn that laughing at yourself, or the ridiculousness of others, is a coping mechanism of this life. Your siblings were the original “bullies” that might have accidentally pointed out that your nose was longer than most, but they are also there to immediately provide a joke that makes your freakish ski-slope of a smelling device acceptable, and will be there to break that of anyone else who chooses to comment.

6. Thank you for loving me at my worst.

One of the greatest things about your siblings is their ability to love the good, the bad, and the ugly. In some friendships, you can hide the less desirable parts of yourself. It is even possible to trick your significant other into believing you constantly radiate sunshine and rainbows. But when you live with someone in each stage of their life, you learn almost every side of someone’s personality and, with that, accept that not every facet of a person is something you are going to enjoy. Your siblings develop a particular talent of loving you the way you receive it best, and patiently await your comeback when you are dredging your way through tough times. They don’t demand your best from you at all times; rather they allow you to let your guard down at home and work through life when it calls for it.

7. Thank you for showing me individuality is a good thing.

Your siblings are truly the first people to properly illustrate for you that being oneself is a desirable thing. Even if you were able to recognize through your classmates that each human is incredibly different from the next, you probably didn’t yet appreciate this because you would rather they each just be like you. As a child, you are predisposed to thinking that you are the best kind of human there is, and others around you were just lesser versions, poor things. But through your siblings, you spend time around people completely unlike you, but somehow you still value them as much as yourself. Your perception shifts from believing differences are wrong to realizing that you are just in love with the person they are, even if you would never choose to be them yourself. That’s powerful.

8. Thank you for all the things that are to come.

The neat thing about siblings are all the incredibly exciting events in life that they participate in and you can thank them for throughout your lives. As children you get to thank your siblings for being your buddy, for being loyal and consistent and kind. As teens you can thank your siblings for being your defender, for being supportive and tough and encouraging. And then you reach this wonderful period of your life known as adulthood, when you get to thank your siblings for being your bridesmaids or groomsmen, for being wonderful aunts and uncles, and for helping you lay your parents to rest when the time comes. They transition from entertaining add-ons to emotional necessities, and you find you couldn’t be more grateful for this shift in roles.

Whether you are the oldest of two, the youngest of eight, or the middle child of three, take the time to thank your siblings -- one and all -- for all the ways they have contributed to your life over the years. I guarantee you won't regret it.