A Letter to My Brother on His 18th Birthday

A Letter to My Brother on His 18th Birthday

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Dear J,

First of all, happy birthday you Valentine's baby. I hope your day was filled with lots of love, hearts, kisses and all of those other things you generally stay away from!

As your wise older sister, two years your senior, I would like to impart some knowledge on to you.

At this moment in your life you are the epitome of nervous. You have yet to receive emails that will change the course of your life, emails that could come at any moment. You hesitate to refresh. You are wondering which paths will be offered to you and which path you will ultimately take.

Yet you are enjoying your final moments with your high school friends, most of whom have been your best friends since the Rescue Heroes days. You are engaging in crazy senior year activities, becoming nostalgic about things you took for granted, and starting your list of lasts. You are realizing the importance of these relationships and beginning to come to terms with the fact that your separation is fast approaching. In just a few short months you will walk down the hallways of Breck School with Nate for the last time, and that scares the hell out of you.

But it will happen. You will walk down the aisle at graduation, Mom and Dad will cry, you will throw your cap in the air, and a new era will be upon you. The summer will fly by, filled with shenanigans, graduation parties, and some work. Soon, your freshman year will be nearing. You will not want to go to Bed Bath & Beyond with Mom, because the idea of it makes you want to slit your wrists, but go with her. Spend excess time picking out your bedding, desk lamp and shower caddy. Ease her pain of having to let her baby go. By mid-August, you will be all packed, and you will have to say goodbye to your baby brother and sister, who will be devastated. And you will realize, only then, how much you will miss seeing their faces every day. Give them a huge squeeze and tell them how much you love them.

You will arrive on campus with butterflies. Mom and Dad will overstay their welcome, and then you will finally be on your own. Trust me, you will miss them. You will have a roommate, and you will learn to live with another person in a shoebox. You will go to parties and meet new people, and girls will want to kiss you -- be nice to them. Respect them. Think of them as if they all have younger brothers, just like you, who want to protect them. Be a guy their brother would approve of. You will be overwhelmed and frustrated by the endless piles of work, and will doubt yourself when you get your first bad grade. Call Dad. He will tell you that if you worked your hardest, you should be proud -- you will work harder, next time. You will test your limits,  in all senses of the word, and you will have bad nights that Mom and Dad will not know about. Learn from those nights and do not repeat them.

Right now, you are nervous. But don’t let those nerves take over. Regardless of what those emails contain, and even though you are closing a really wonderful chapter of your life, you are about to enter the most exciting one, yet. Cherish your last few months of high school. But know that, soon, you will be in college. And college is awesome.

I love you. 

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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My Lake Elsinore Poppy Field Experience

This past weekend I had the chance to visit the super bloom of golden poppies, and they were quite breathtaking.

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Hill after hill, California's golden flower blanketed soft sloped grassy tops that seemed to continue what felt like forever, far into the valley. The hills looked as if they were painted a bright Garibaldi orange, or coated with layers and layers of Cheetos. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the almost glowing-orange flowers swayed back and forth in the breeze. I felt like I was in a story book or a scene from the Sound of Music. The rare infamous poppy field explosion was right in front of my eyes, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

I had gone to see the flower fields because of how much I adore flowers, and have never experienced a whole field or valley of them like this before. I wanted to be able to respectfully walk alongside the flowers, and see their blinding beauty with my very own eyes, which I did. However, MANY people at Walker Canyon, a.k.a social media influencers and Instagram addicts, were quite noticeably there just to have photo shoots and stare at their phones, checking the lighting and if they're amethyst was glimmering in the sunlight.

As wonderful, beautiful, and bright as the poppies were, and as much as I enjoyed feeling their soft silky petals, and sitting and walking beside them, taking a few photos here and there, I was annoyed with how many people were there just to strike a pose for their social media.

This magical and very RARE moment of a poppy bloom should not have people looking down at their phones, and asking their friends which pose looks better. Smell the flowers, open your eyes look up at the sky, and blind yourselves with the beauty of this natural wonder. Go outside, and actually live a little.

Despite the many people who were there just to get the photos for the likes and followers on Instagram, I am so fortunate and grateful to have had the chance to see these golden flowery fields. If you have the chance to go, look into traffic conditions, and bring a hat and lots of water! It sure was warm on that walk, so always a good idea to come prepared. I also noticed some people picking the flowers and putting them in their hair. As pretty and cute as that may look for your photo, don't do that. Please respect all spaces, and let the precious elements of life be.

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