All of my siblings are growing up too fast

Stay Simple, Stay Innocent, And Please Don't Grow Up

An open letter to my younger siblings who won't stop growing up.

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You are smart. You are brave. You are special. You have so much potential in you, and I tear up a bit watching it pour out of you. You never fail to put a smile on my face. I am so thankful to have you in my life.

When I was growing up, I used to wonder what it would be like to live as an only child. Now, I don't want to know. I don't know what I would do without you, all of you. I remember being your age and wanting to be an adult. Trust me, I know it all. I wanted to grow up and learn how to drive, and get a job so I can make my own money. I couldn't wait to be old enough to stay out late with my friends and just be able to do what I wanted to do.

Believe me when I tell you that it comes faster than you think. Before you know it, you'll go from wearing onesies to throwing your cap in the air at graduation. It goes by terribly fast.

So my advice to you is to enjoy it. Enjoy every day you get to wake up and not pay for anything. Enjoy every single sports game you play, as it will not be like that forever.

Be friends with everyone. Do not rush to get anywhere fast, and always take the long way home. Be truthful, and trustworthy. Do not put yourself in a situation you know is bad before you get in it.

Be close with each other, always. Have each other's backs right or wrong. You need to stick together. No one should come in between the bond you all have. No one. Please take care of each other.

Be kind to your mom and spend time with your dad. Don't forget as you get older, they do too. Do not take advantage of the days you have left with them. Every day is a blessing you were given.

Be optimistic and loud. Be creative and inspiring. I am inspired by you every day, pushing me to be a better person. You give me hope and keep me humble. There is nothing more in this world that I love more than you. Don't ever forget that.

I will forever cherish the days I got to hold your tiny hands and play peek-a-boo with you. I will never forget the constant laughter and random conversations we always had together or our time spent on vacations.

I will always remember watching you take your first steps and teaching you how to ride a bike. Please know that I will always be here for you. I am never too far away. I would walk across land masses and swim through oceans if that is what I had to do to get to you.

I would give all I have for you to stay small, for you to have no regrets, and for you to always have a smile on your face.

I will be there for you whenever you need. I won't let anyone hurt you, or put you down. You have the world in the palm of your hands. And at this very moment, you can be anything you want. Follow your dreams, take risks.

I will always have your back in any situation. I will always be one call away. You all have one sister. Me. And I could not be more grateful to have that position in your life. You are so important to me.

You will always be my number one best friend.

So here I am, starting this new chapter in my life, scared as hell as what's to come. But I know that if I fall, you will be there to pick me up.

And I know you want to, but please try to stay simple, stay innocent. This is not a world you want to rush into. I wish I didn't.

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A Letter To My Freshman Dorm Room As I Pack Up My Things

Somehow a 15' x 12' room became a home.

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Dear Geary 411,

With your creaky beds, concrete walls, and mismatched tile floors, you are easily overlooked as just another room we were randomly assigned to— but you were different. Inside your old walls, I have made some of the best memories of my life that I will hold on to forever.

Thank you for welcoming my neighbors in with open arms who quickly became friends who didn't knock and walked in like you were their own.

I feel like an apology is needed.

We're sorry for blaring the music so loud while getting ready and acting like we can actually sing when, in reality, we know we can't. Sorry for the dance parties that got a bit out of control and ended with us standing on the desks. Sorry for the cases of the late-night giggles that came out of nowhere and just would not go away. Sorry for the homesick cries and the "I failed my test" cries and the "I'm dropping out" cries. We're sorry for hating you at first. All we saw was a tiny and insanely hot room, we had no idea what you would bring to us.

Thank you for providing me with memories of my first college friends and college experiences.

As I stand at the door looking at the bare room that I first walked into nine months ago I see so much more than just a room. I see lots and lots of dinners being eaten at the desks filled with stories of our days. I see three girls sitting on the floor laughing at God knows what. I see late night ice cream runs and dance battles. I see long nights of homework and much-needed naps. Most importantly, I look at the bed and see a girl who sat and watched her parents leave in August and was absolutely terrified, and as I lock you up for the last time today, I am so proud of who that terrified girl is now and how much she has grown.

Thank you for being a space where I could grow, where I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally and for being my home for a year.

Sincerely,

A girl who is sad to go

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When Was The Last Time You Were Alive?

If you can't post it for everyone to see, was it truly a remarkable moment?

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Being alive is an essentially effortless act.

In theory, as long as you're eating food, drinking water, and performing as a human, assuming no major health conditions, most of us are living.

The tragedy I see most often is so very few of us are alive.

Now, I'm not suggesting you drop your textbooks and sprint up a mountain, or go broke trying to find yourself in new activities and events.

That's the illusion pressed onto so many of us. Social Media, more importantly, FOMO, has taught us that in order to truly be alive we need to make sure we travel far and wide, eat gourmet and unique food, and essentially, immerse ourselves in something phenomenal. However, regardless of what you do- don't do it without an audience and the value of your experience will only be justified by the number of likes you accrue on your #bestvacation ever because you #lovenature. With your back to the camera and wispy hair flowing in the beach air, you hit all of your angles, how else will you prove that you're alive to Instagram?

I fell for this too. I spent so much of my life constantly trying to get to the next phase life had to offer. High school was fun, but I was counting the days until graduation. Growing up in a small hometown wasn't awful, but I had sticky note calendars until my next vacation. And day in and day out, events would happen all around me that were just too "normal." I wasn't alive, but I was living.

Setting your soul on fire and truly living is so much more difficult than you could ever expect, but not because you have to drain savings and take along a buddy to snap all the perfect moments.

Choosing to be alive is realizing how important it is to be in this moment or phase in life and accepting it for all its worth. Instead of racing to the finish line or trying to sprint into your next season of assumed happiness, take time to notice all the beautiful and small things that make this moment so important. There is so much life to be found in simple moments.

Semesters are ending, we are all racing to summer. Perhaps in the process, take note of the routine cafeteria worker that constantly smiles at you and says hello. Or perhaps, giggle at the fact that in just a few short weeks that bus driver you see every single morning won't be apart of your morning routine.

The farther I get from what used to be my normal, the more I miss that season of life. I haven't lived in my hometown since I was eighteen, but I miss the simplicity that came with my drives to high school listening to Kanye West and the coziness of a small town opening its doors to start a new day. I never stopped to be alive in those moments, I was just simply living.

Wherever your next phase of life might be, it will always be there. You will always have something else coming. However, once this moment is gone. It's truly gone. Don't waste beautiful views trying to capture just the right picture for Instagram, take in the moment.

Living and experiencing life can be as simple as trusting that you're exactly where you need to be in life. Cherish each moment as you're in it. The next moment is coming whether you're ready or not.

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