Before we dive on into this emotional post, I thought I’d give you a little backstory.
I have two incredible little sisters. The first is my biological sister, Gracie. Grace and I were born 20 months apart, and she lives in our hometown down in Florida. Kaleigh is our second sister and one of my roommates here in New York. She first came into our lives when I was five and Grace was three years old. Grace and Kaleigh are the same age and were fast friends. The girls reconnected in middle school and she has been an important part of our family ever since.
As the “wise” and extremely sentimental older sister, I loved to write Grace and Kaleigh letters with life advice. Years later (around my 24th birthday I believe) I realized I knew absolutely nothing about life. So even though I am quite unqualified to give advice and still am figuring things out on a daily basis, here is a little love letter from me to all my little sisters out there.
01. Listen to your parents.
I know they probably annoy you but I promise one day you will realize they really do know more than you. You probably won’t come to this realization for many years. It took me until I had graduated college and had been out in the “real world” for a while. I’ll never forget calling my dad and hearing his thunderous roar of a laugh after I said, “you were right about everything”.
02. Don’t call or text boys first.
If a boy likes you, he will call you - plain and simple. I guarantee he is not sitting at home waiting by his phone for you to reach out. Just don’t do it.
03. Never dumb yourself down.
In high school I thought it was funny to play the part of “dumb blonde.” It’s not. Be proud of how intelligent you are.
04. Study hard.
I know high school can be rough, but the harder you push yourself, the more opportunities you will create for yourself when you are ready for college. It will all be worth it.
05. Live to the fullest.
Get involved at school. Try a new sport, audition for a play… Whatever you do, continue trying new things! This is how you figure out what you’re interested in and what you’re good at.
When I was a junior in high school my little sister convinced me to join the track and field team with her. I was extremely nervous, because I had only ever been a swimmer and a cheerleader. Becoming a member of that team ended up being a highlight of my entire high school experience. I was pushed and challenged in ways I had never been before, realized how strong I was, and made some incredible friends. Never let your fear hinder you from experiencing something amazing.
06. Stay present.
Enjoy your current age and phase in life. You only get seven years to be a silly teenager. Adulthood lasts for the rest of your life. Go to summer camp, host movie marathons, put on old prom dresses and have a dance party in a parking lot. You don’t have to pay bills or worry about taxes...yet. Embrace that.
07. Get to know your elders.
Pull out some old photo albums and listen to their stories. Ask them what they were like at your age. Some of my most cherished memories are moments spent with my grandparents and the older people my mom routinely adopted, just listening to their life adventures.
08. Write letters.
Especially thank you notes. Never underestimate the power of a thank you note. I even received a job offer once because of a thank you note I had written. A hand written note is guaranteed to produce a smile on the face of the recipient. People love getting mail!
09. Keep dreaming.
When I was in high school I wanted to be a fashion designer and a stylist. I was absolutely obsessed with Teen Vogue. (I had every single issue from 2004 to 2010 organized chronologically in my bedroom.) I could never have imagined that I would end up working on Broadway, but I knew for certain that I wanted to live a BIG life.
10. Set goals.
Gigantic goals can totally be accomplished, but you need to have a plan of attack. My senior year of college I knew I wanted to live in New York, but required major funds to get there. So, I found a great job in my field, saved all the money I could, and after two years I was able to move to the city. Even if you don't accomplish everything on your list, it's okay! Your journey will be different than mine and your goals may change along the way. Please never lose your determination, and remember to enjoy the process. Accomplishing your ultimate goal is the most incredible feeling, especially if you find joy in the journey there.
All images by Laurel Creative