An Open Letter To My Big Brother

An Open Letter To My Big Brother

You're my favorite bully.
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Dear big brother,

Let's just cut to the chase and start this thing out on an honest note: you probably legitimately hated me at some point in your life. I'm sure there were a few moments when I annoyed you so much that even the "we love each other because we're family" love went away. Heck, I'm probably annoying you somehow right now. But hey, what are little siblings for? I will say this, though: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I bothered you at times while we were growing up and I'm sorry I still bother you sometimes, but I promise it was all (read: sometimes) done with a pure heart. I wasn't always the little spawn of satan that you probably thought I was. And just throwing this out there: it wasn't a walk in the park for me either. Where you saw me as clingy, I saw you as the cool kid that I'd be lucky to hang out with. Where you saw me as a copycat, I saw you as a trendsetter. Where you saw me as a brat, I saw you as an example (because let's be real, you were not very pleasant in your pubescent years). Where you saw me as the pesky little sibling that you just couldn't get away from, I saw you as a God-given role model, a protector and a friend.

I always daydreamed about you sticking up for me if someone tried to bully me, but that situation never came about. I didn't know at the time that a friendship would be in our future, but it came in due time. As for our childhood, though, yeah. You were my God-given role model. I have looked to you for advice and guidance since the day I was born and honestly, I haven't stopped since. I watched you go through every mistake and every triumph – from how to ride a bicycle to failing middle school projects and even navigating the job interview/offer process during college. Let me tell you, you aren't the only one who learned from each mistake and triumph. I saw every failure as something to avoid and prevent in my life, and every success as something to strive for in my life. Thank you for being someone that taught me so incredibly much without even trying.

You made my life better. All of those life lessons I learned from obnoxiously and obsessively clinging to you (as all of the best little siblings do) helped me avoid so many life roadblocks and overcome so many obstacles. You may not realize this, but you are my hero. I'd say I would be nothing without you, but I would be something – lost. No matter how much you may have hated me at any given moment in time, you always knew when I really needed you to be there for me. You always knew when I needed some tough love (which was quite often, if I remember correctly). You always knew when I needed some alone time with you, even though you probably didn't want to spend any spare time with me. You always knew when I needed your support or approval. You always knew when I needed a pat on the back or a big bear hug. You always knew when I needed someone to complain about mom and dad with, because you remember having the same arguments with them years earlier. You always knew how to push my buttons while also managing to calm my storms. For that – for all of that – I am more than thankful.

Seriously, I am so beyond thankful for you. I wouldn't trade any fight, any argument, any hard time or any negative experience with you for the world. Looking at our relationship now makes me appreciate all of our past even more. Our friendship means the whole world to me – you understand me more than most. You tolerate me more than most. You love me more than most. You have protected me, taught me and saved me in more ways than you know and you have helped me become the person I am today. Maybe you were right all those times you said, "I'm only mean to you because I love you."

Thank you, you big teddy bear. You're my favorite bully.


Cover Image Credit: Kristi Russell

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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41 Thank-Yous To My Boyfriend Who Stood By My Side For Three Semesters And Graduation

Life will be scary and difficult sometimes, but as long as you're there to hold my hand, I know that I will always be OK.

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These last several semesters at college, I've learned so much and I've changed so much, all because of one person. A person that came at a time when things were going downhill, and completely flipped my life around. I will never forget how terrible I felt before I met you, and how much better I am with you by my side. Truly, I don't know where I would be without you. And that's why it will always be impossible to thank you enough for everything that you have done for me.

But you do deserve to know how much of an impact you have on me.

1. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on when I was struggling to get through this last semester.

2. Thank you for always listening to me rant about problems I was having with my friends.

3. Thank you for never getting tired of me talking about the same things over and over again.

4. Thank you for never acting like my past trauma was baggage or a burden.

5. Thank you for trying your best to understand and to be considerate of my anxiety.

6. Thank you for being patient with me when I take so long to process everything and sort out my emotions.

7. Thank you for dealing with my mood swings and intense emotions.

8. Thank you for never judging me over things I get embarrassed about.

9. Thank you for sharing your opinions with me, even when I didn't want to hear them, but I needed to hear them.

10. Thank you for opening my eyes to toxic behavior that I was blind to.

11. Thank you for always looking out for my health and well-being, and my future.

12. Thank you for helping me grow up and mature.

13. Thank you for always wanting to talk things out.

14. Thank you for making me feel important.

15. Thank you for giving me a reason to live.

16. Thank you for showing me what true love is.

17. Thank you for being my best friend and partner in life.

18. Thank you for breaking my walls down but never breaking a promise.

19. Thank you for keeping my heart safe.

20. Thank you for giving me endless reassurance.

21. Thank you for never making me worry about the fate of our relationship.

22. Thank you for always putting me first.

23. Thank you for being loyal and committed to me.

24. Thank you for all of the memories and adventures.

25. Thank you for never getting annoyed about taking photos.

26. Thank you for the best summer of my life.

27. Thank you for making college a much better experience for me.

28. Thank you for always putting a smile on my face.

29. Thank you for always catering to me and trying to make me happy.

30. Thank you for all the little favors you do for me and everything else you might think goes unnoticed (but trust me, I notice and I appreciate it so much).

31. Thank you for supporting everything that I'm passionate about.

32. Thank you for always making an effort to change.

33. Thank you for always forgiving me when I make (loads of) mistakes.

34. Thank you for being a good influence on me.

35. Thank you for being my role model and inspiring me to be more like you.

36. Thank you for the amount of time, effort, and love that you've put into our relationship.

37. Thank you for shaping my future.

38. Thank you for making me so hopeful and excited about everything that we are going to do throughout our life together.

39. Thank you for thinking that I'm worth it.

40. Thank you for wanting to get married, have kids, and spend your life with me.

41. Thank you for making my dreams come true.

Now that we've graduated, for the first time, we're dealing with the fact that we don't have a set path laid out for us. Real life is more than what we're used to. We might struggle to find jobs. Heck, we might find jobs but hate them. It might take forever to save up money. Things might not go according to how we planned them in our heads. We're going to have to juggle a bunch of different elements all at once. Life will be scary and difficult sometimes, but as long as you're there to hold my hand, I know that I will always be OK.

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