My Sister, My Very Best Friend

My Sister, My Very Best Friend

How I got through this without sobbing is a mystery...

"There is no better friend than a sister, and there is no better sister than you".

Too often, I find myself rolling my eyes at her, or storming away because she said something just for the sake of pissing me off, or punching her in the arm because she slapped me in the face. But far more often, I find myself laughing so hard I cry, spewing a drink out of my nose when she says something unbelievable, or sharing a funny tweet with her and silently giggling as I hear her snort next to me when she reads it. My sister and I share an incredible bond, and while it drives my parents up a wall, I would not give her up if the world depended on it.

My sister is my saving grace. Truly. The only memory I have of my life without her in it is the day she was born. I remember being so excited because I was getting a mini-me, a real life baby doll that I could feed and dress up and play with. And while there were far more dirty diapers than I expected ("I did not sign up for this, Mom"), I could not have asked for a more perfect baby sister, and I would have never guessed that this wrinkly, smelly, whiny baby would grow to be my beautiful, kind, caring, sassy, best friend for life.

We always joked that we are twins, separated by four years. We look exactly alike, and sometimes I swear that we share the same brain. But while I claim that she is my mini-me, she is so incredibly herself, and every time she does something that proves she's getting older and becoming a woman, I can't help but stare at her in awe.

As my little sister, she has faced a lot of criticism and comparison coming into the high school that I recently graduated from. The first two weeks of her freshman year consisted of "So and so asked if I was related to you" or "So and so told me that she loved having you in class" and all kinds of things like that. As the older sister, it really sucked to hear this, because as much as you want to pave the way to make things easier for her when she gets to that point, you can't help but wonder if you actually made it harder due to the comparison she's bound to face.

It's even harder when you get a glimpse of how she sees herself; when she doesn't think she's good enough, strong enough, talented enough; when she can't see how truly astounding she is. There have been a zillion times that I have wanted to grab her and shake her like a Polaroid picture until she understands how much I freaking love her. How worthy she is. How very talented and inspiring and funny she is. How much I adore her and her spunky self.

It's hard for me to even write this because I feel like I can't adequately express how much she means to mean. How I wouldn't be half of the person that I am today if it weren't for her. How even though I am the older sister and I'm supposed to teach her and lead her and show her the ropes, she teaches me so much about life and myself every single day. She makes me kinder, stronger, and just an overall better person. I would be lost without her because she is my best friend.

She is the very thing that comes to mind when I think of ways that God has blessed my life. When someone asks me to show them proof that God is real and active in my life, I point to her. If she were stuck on the train tracks with no way to get off, I would stop that train with my bare hands before it could touch her. If anyone in this world hurts her precious heart, they better be prepared to face the wrath of this older sister.

Kayla, thank you for being you and so unapologetically so. Thank you for showing me kindness and mercy and forgiveness when I am being so very mean to you. For never giving up on me and for always being there when it feels like my world is crashing down. For being the best friend I've ever had, and ever will have.

I hope you know how much I love you. Truly. You are my favorite person on this planet and there is not a single thing on this earth that I wouldn't do to see you smile. Please don't ever forget your worth. Do not let anyone decide who you are going to become or what you are going to accomplish. Don't let anyone compare you to anyone but yourself. We may be sisters, but you are you, and that is something you should always be proud of.

Seeing you grow up makes me so emotional but so proud that it feels like my heart is going to burst. It's hard knowing that you won't be by my side forever. You're gonna graduate and go to college and be the best damn doctor there ever was. You're gonna meet the man of your dreams and marry him and start a family. MiKayla Renae, you are going to be the most incredible mother.

I envy your kindness. I envy your heart of gold. I envy your joyful spirit. You are so incredible, and I STILL can't find the words to express what I am feeling. But I love you more than there are stars in the sky, more than there are seeds in watermelon, and more than there are calories in our favorite frappuccinos.

I can't comprehend my life without you, and I won't even occupy that thought because a world without my girl in it isn't a world worth living in. We're going to be forever best friends, and I can't tell you how lucky and honored I am to be your older sister. It has been the greatest pleasure of my life to see you grow and become YOU. You gave me the greatest gift of all: getting to be your sister.

I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Brianna Parrish

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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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.


Even though years have passed since this horrific day, it still haunts my memory. 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 following 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, with no place to hide, I just walked 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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