If you’re anything like me, you grew up without any sisters. Although that’s all I wanted in life, I only had a brother to torment and in return had a pest to annoy me. But what my parents did to compensate for the lack of a female to look up to and have as a sister was that they raised my cousin and me to grow up as sisters. So for my whole life, I grew up with a cousin who played the role of a sister, and as I got older she played the role of a best friend. The luck I’ve been given of having a cousin is as follows:

They’re your built-in best friend.
After years of being together and growing up, it’s only natural that you become the best of friends. You have created so many memories that have resulted in not only a bonding experience but also incidents that have resulted in laughter and memories that you talk about through adulthood.

They’ve been there since the beginning.
They’ve known you longer than anyone there is and have been through every stage of life with you. Diaper days, awkward middle school days, that high school stage where you made mistakes and embarrassing choices, everything. They’re also the only person who has rights to make fun of your horrid, tacky, fashion choices.

You can’t survive family functions without them.
They’re the only person that you can joke with and crack inside jokes about how embarrassing your weird uncle is or how annoying your aunt is being. They’re there to help you escape having to participate in family bonding and you guys can laugh about all the weird antics after the fact.

There’s never any competition.
Since they’re not a direct sibling, you don’t feel the need to compare yourselves in order to strive for your parent’s attention. You both only uplift each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. While you’re both there for each other, you know how to motivate each other to help one another achieve success.

Vacations mean getting to see your cousin.
Family vacations generally meant being able to see one another and you looked forward to that more than anything else about the trip. It was always a countdown when you were a week out from seeing each other, and the moment your flight touched down the immediate text saying, “I’m here,” was the first thing to cross your mind.

You each know each other’s crushes, best friends, etc.
Whenever you reunite it’s only common knowledge that you update each other on your lives, who’s who, who’s important, etc. They know each of your crushes by first and last name, and they have a strong opinion on them whether it’s good or bad.

Your parents accidentally refer you guys as siblings rather than cousins.
You spend so much time together and may bicker jokingly that your parents will sometimes say “tell your sister, I mean tell your cousin to do this.” Bonus points if it doesn’t faze you when this happens.

They’re always there for you to vent to.
No matter what the situation is or what the circumstances are, they’ll let you vent about anything and give their honest feedback, but also sympathize with your emotions and take on the situation. And these vent sessions can be in the middle of the day or the middle of the night.

So if you’re anything like me, you’ve been blessed with the best cousin you could ask for. You sometimes forget you're only cousins because they’re the sibling you didn’t have, or they’re one of your best friends. It’s a lucky situation that not everyone gets to experience, but if you do, don’t take it for granted.