A Letter To My Younger Brother, My Best Friend

A Letter To My Not-So-Little, Little Brother

You drive me crazy ninety-nine percent of the time, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

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To My Not-So-Little, Little Brother,

You drive me absolutely nuts. You know how to push every single button of mine, and then the ones I didn't know I had. You get frustrated with me, and I with you. You make fun of me, call me names, and complain about my habits daily. We argue, we push each other around, and play jokes on one another more than most people. You yell at me for taking bites out of your avocado toast as soon as you finish making it, and snarl at me for not telling you that I went to our favorite Mexican place earlier that day. I hate how you always find sneaking into the bathroom while I'm showering to turn off the lights hilarious, and how you are impossible to wake up in the morning, no matter how hard mom and I try. I hate how you moon me every chance you get, breath in my face after you eat onions, steal my shampoo, and use all of the hot water before I have to shower—always when I'm in a rush, too.

But I also love how we laugh until we cry, how we finish each other's sentences and each other's food when the other can't. I love how we spend hours looking at pictures of dogs together, and then beg mom to let us get one (to no avail). I love how I once used you as an armrest, and how you now tower a solid four inches above me. I love how you don't like physical affection, but still show me you love me by patting me on the head, or putting your shirt over my face when I'm focused on something else. I love how we compete to see who can throw the most popcorn into the other's mouth at one in the morning instead of studying for tomorrow's math test, and how both of us can stay up later than anyone else we know. I love how you know immediately when something is wrong, and how you always quietly listen when I need to vent.

I cherish every moment you confide in me, ask for my advice, or want to talk about the latest family drama, and I love watching your annoyance with me when I say I'm going to come to college with you and be your roommate. I love how you can now give me piggy-back rides around the house when I'm too lazy to walk, and how you begrudgingly refill my water bottle six times a day. I beam with pride watching your kindness, gentleness, and compassion on display when speaking with others, and seeing the fire in your eyes when you're doing what you love most.

I think back to when we were younger when you couldn't pronounce my name and when I would have to teach you everything and smile at how smart you've become, kicking my butt in any theater-related "Jeopardy" category and sharing your endless knowledge of the latest memes with me. You never cease to impress me, kid, and if I don't tell you enough, I think you're pretty cool.

So overall, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being my partner in crime; my best friend; the one to say "No," (but really mean "Yes") to my every request; the one who hugs me while I cry when someone breaks my heart; the one who joins me in my weirdness, loves our late-night adventures through Walmart, and is the best at finding fries at 1 a.m. For being the guy who can whistle any pitch of any tune, and shame me when I can't...at all; for upholding your title as the human encyclopedia of "Spongebob" quotes, and remembering every scene from our favorite movies, as well as every word that I said in an argument last year. Most importantly, though, thank you for being you, and for giving me the blessing of both a sibling and best friend in one. Even though you can't choose your family, I think I'd still pick you if I had the option. I love you.

Your Big Sister,

Ciara

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An Open Letter To My Favorite High School Senior

You may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this.
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Dear high school senior,

I literally can't believe time has flown by so fast. It seems like yesterday your backpack was twice your size and your only worry was what game you were going to play during recess. I am so proud of the person that you are becoming and can't wait to see what the next few years have in store for you. This is likely going to be the best/scariest year of your life all in one. The transition from high school to college is a big deal. The atmosphere of senior year is something that is so special. There is nothing like Friday night football, a bonfire with your closest friends, and messing with your favorite sophomores just because you can. From state champions in football to class favorite and getting the chance to go to your dream college- you have accomplished so much already, and I can't wait to see you accomplish even more as you go to college. But high school isn't over yet, so have fun while it lasts!


Don't rush it, enjoy it.

I know what you're thinking at this point, "I'm basically done with high school. Why won't graduation just hurry up and get here?" Please do not rush it. Enjoy the last days of your high school career because you will never get to go back. Enjoy laughing with your friends at lunch, take it all in as you walk down those halls to your locker, let your mom and dad take as many pictures as they want- you will appreciate them one day.

Be nice to mom and dad.

I know that you're so excited to get out of the house and experience college, but don't forget who helped you get this far in life. Mom and dad will miss you more than you miss them when you're gone, so let them enjoy their time with you while you are still home. Believe it or not, you are going to miss mom's sloppy joes and french dip sandwiches more than you think. Mom already cries every time we break out the baby pictures, so don't make too many jokes about how you can't wait to leave home and have the time of your life. Dad tries to hold it together, but it is hard for any parent to be prepared for their kid to leave them. I promise you will miss them while you're at college, even if you don't think you will.

Don't forget about me while you're having fun in college.

College is going to be fun. You are not going to have very much time to sit around and miss everyone. But don't forget about me completely! I am so excited for you to start doing things on your own and start preparing for the world. I hope you have fun, but I also hope you don't forget that I'm fun too and I am only a phone call away.

You're going to make new friends and part ways with old ones. You have a chance to be whoever you want to be in college, so embrace it! You will learn so much from college, and it will be the most fun/fast years of your life. But don't forget that your high school career isn't over yet. Enjoy the last few times to walk the halls, eat that fantastic high school lunch, and 5th period study halls playing ping pong because you will never get that back. I hope you make the best of it al, and I can't wait to see where the next four years take you!

Cover Image Credit: Daylen Bills

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To The Older Sibling I Never Had, I Wish You Were Here To Guide Me

I know you don't exist, and I know you never will, but sometimes I catch myself imagining a life with you in it.

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Starting high school is a terrifying feeling and an insane transition when you don't have anyone to guide you through it. It was a mere 15-step walk to the door, and once I was inside my parents promised me there would be somebody there to help me find my classes, so why did I feel like I was being thrown straight into the gates of hell? I counted down the minutes until we pulled into the school parking lot and dreaded the sound of the car door opening and the anticipated start to the "best four years of my life."

As we were pulling up, I saw a girl who went to the same middle school as I followed her older brother, who was a senior through the front doors as if it had been rehearsed at home. At this moment, I would have given my right foot to walk in her shoes right behind an older brother just this once. Eventually, I just walked right inside.

Unfortunately, this would not be the last of my longing for guidance from the older sibling I've never had.

I get it, I got a B in math. I get it, if I would have spent last Friday night studying instead of out with my friends it is possible that I could have gotten an A. But, what my parents seemed to not get was that life actually does go on even if you get a B on a report card. Time doesn't stop, your dreams don't diminish, and you are still viewed as a fairly competent person.

Luckily for my younger sisters, it seems my parents eventually did get it at the cost of my phone being taken away for three months and my social life ceasing to exist for the rest of that school year. As I spent every Friday night at home studying I longed, for just this once, to have an older sibling who was willing to take this hit for me.

Why did nobody tell me that it's actually more fun to go to school dances with friends than the boy you barely know who is just desperate for some conversation with the opposite sex?

I always wondered why that girl I went to middle school with never took a date to any of our formals or homecomings. Eventually, four homecomings and two proms later, I realized that this was because stumbling through the awkward introductions to family, tolerating the completely posed and overdone photos that would never actually be posted anywhere because you didn't talk outside of this forced interaction, and small talk over fruit punch and loud music was never actually necessary. Of course, I passed this message to my younger sisters and saved them the struggle of finding out for themselves.

Don't even get me started on being the first sibling to have to navigate applying to colleges.

I really could have used you then. I'm convinced there is nothing more difficult than trying to fill out a FAFSA or Common Application with absolutely no guidance or experience. Is my application essay long enough? Should I apply for early or regular admission? What if I don't get accepted anywhere? As selfish as it sounds, I would have given my other foot not to have to find these things out for myself.

I'd trade a lifetime worth of shotgun privileges to have you in my life to help me figure this stuff out.

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