To my sister on her birthday

Dear Caitlin,

Happy 18th birthday, my littlest sister. I thought of what I could give you today (besides my old iPhone!) that would help you through the next few years as a new adult. I came up with a few pieces of advice that I would, and would not, give you.

I won’t tell you not to drink too much. You should try a wide variety of alcohol until you find something you like. Try scotch, try a gin and tonic, find out if you prefer red wine or white. Find out what your limits are (in a safe environment of course!) and find out what you’re comfortable with. Then stick to those personal limits. I know you’re smart enough to do this anyway, so I won’t tell you not to drink too much.

I won’t tell you to be careful around guys. I won’t even ask you to learn from my mistakes (although you’re more than welcome to of course). I will tell you to love yourself first, because that piece of advice is the most useful piece of relationship advice I can give you. Love yourself first, wildly and without fear. And, you might have bad relationships. And that’s okay. Learn from all the relationships you have, the bad and the good, so that next one is better. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, I’ll be two states and one phone call away.

I won’t tell you not to get a credit card. Because you’ve already told me you’re not that stupid. And I am so proud. I will tell you to get a debit card. I will tell you to budget, but also to experiment with different styles of budgeting to find out what works best for you (hint: everyone has a different style of budgeting and often they’re worth learning from. Pick out the bits that work best for you). I will tell you to start a savings account. One that you plan on not withdrawing from. Even if you only put in $10/month. Start one, I promise you won’t regret it.

I won’t tell you to look after yourself. I know you will. I also know, speaking from experience, that if you want to eat a bowl of Oreos and peanut butter for breakfast one day it won’t kill you. It’ll probably just put you off eating peanut butter for a few months. I know that you’ll eventually figure out that doing a little bit of exercise everyday makes you feel better than not doing any at all. I know that you’ll figure out how to cook the food you want to eat, and I know you’ll probably fail the first few times at trying a new dish. And that’s okay. Especially if no-one knows you were making it (hide the evidence!).

I won’t tell you to dream big and go for your dreams, because that’s cliche and over rated. I will tell you to do something you love. Even if that means you have to do something you don’t love to get to it (like work part-time at a boring job while you study for that dream job). And remember that even dream jobs can suck sometimes. Nothing is perfect.

I on’t tell you that life is all fun and games. Sometimes you have sucky days where everything goes wrong and you and grumpy and easily irritated. Those are the days where you need to step outside for five minutes. Honestly, this is the best advice I can give you to get out of a bad mood. Go barefoot, find a natural source of water or a big tree, stand, breathe, feel better!

So today, on your 18th birthday, I give you this, a few lessons I’ve learnt from my few years in the world of adulthood.  And, I give you permission. Permission to ignore any and all of the advice above. Permission to become the kind of adult you want to be. Permission to make your own mistakes and learn your lessons that way. Permission to go wild, or be mild, or find the balance in between.

Permission to be Caitlin Rose MacLean any which way you want.

All my love,
Your biggest sister,
Zoe

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2 Responses to To my sister on her birthday

  1. Jeanette says:

    I wish I had, and I wish I was, a big sister like you Zoe. Thank you.

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