16 years ago, I was still the baby of the family getting all the attention and being spoiled rotten. When I was 3 years old, my life changed forever, but for the better. Even though I will admit I didn't like sharing the spotlight with you at first, I am so thankful that I did, because now you're one of my best friends.

Fast forward 15 years and you're a freshman in high school, and you're taking your teenage years by storm. You have a different personality than me in certain ways, but in many, we are nearly identical. From our facial expressions to our weird jokes, and our dramatic storytelling, people say we are a lot alike. Your optimism and zest for life inspires me to be more carefree and enjoy the little things, and even though you're younger, I am always learning from you. Seeing you slowly transform from a goofy little kid wearing gauchos and singing with me on the fireplace, to a beautiful teenager who curls her own hair and can actually carry a conversation, is one of the strangest, yet most rewarding things I've witnessed. It seems like just yesterday we were putting on dance shows in our living room and running "M&M Salon".

As you continue on this wild journey that is life, always remember who you are and all you have to offer. Whenever you do bad on a test or lose a volleyball game, know that you always have so many people in your corner rooting for you and loving you regardless of the score. Never forget the losses that have made your spirit stronger and all the growth you have made in these past few years. Each and every person is different, in families, in high school, in friend groups, and in just about every aspect of life, you're going to be different than other people, and that's okay. Embrace yourself and your strengths, in order to be the best version of yourself. Cherish these moments in high school with your best friends, as they are tons of fun and far too precious. I promise you, you will never be too cool to go to football games, dances, or pep assemblies, and it is totally okay to stay in on a Friday night with your squad. You're a kid, and not for much longer, so cherish it!

Soon you will have your license (eek) and mom and your friend's parents won't have to drive you to the movies or to the mall. You will be cruising around and it will seem like you have all the freedom in the world. I encourage you to be independent, get a part-time job, and start paving your way to be a mature and independent young woman because that is awesome and such a good experience for you. However, don't forget about our awesome mom. She does so much for us and loves you more than you know, so always tell her you love her when you leave, and for the love of all good things, please eat her dinners some nights, even when it's meatloaf. She wants nothing more than for you to be happy and independent, but you're the last one, and something tells me though she will never admit it, she really will be a little sad when she's finally "done" and you leave home (even though her job will never really be over).

I hope the next four years are everything you wish for and more, along with all the ones to follow, because well, you deserve nothing less. You're a light in this world, and one of my favorite souls. Shoot for the moon, I believe in you.

I love you.

xoxo,

Your Big Sister