To my sister, thank you for being my very first best friend.

Thank you for changing my diapers when I was a baby to being my biggest cheerleader growing up. I never feel lonely because of you. For saving me from drowning in countless pools, fountains and other near-death experiences I’m sure I had. I always feel comfortable testing my boundaries because of you. For downloading my first iPod with all your music and making me hip by introducing me to artists like Maroon 5 and Eminem. I have incredible music taste today because of you. For giving me food every day after school when our mom started working. I never went hungry because of you. For keeping every secret I’ve ever told you. I never have to deal with my thoughts eating at me alone because of you.

Thank you for teaching me right from wrong when our parents couldn’t. I learned early on not to use words that can hurt other people and the importance of family because of you. For helping me pass through every step of school by proofreading my essays, pushing me to think about my career and giving me general life lessons when they were most timely. I learned to be a functional adult because of you. For covering for me whenever I needed support, whether that be when my car broke down in the middle of Ohio without our parents knowing or when you invited me to your apartment in Chicago and let me get away from the noise of college. I always know the first person I can call because of you. For always dealing with our parents in the most civil way and never saying anything without precise calculation. I recognized the significance of emotional intelligence because of you.

I was raised by you and our mom, although at very different levels. While our mom bore the responsibility of being an authority figure in the household, you are the one who could empathize with me as my equal — who shares many of the same childhood memories that I vaguely remember. You take all of what someone else might perceive as my flaws and make me feel comfortable with them. You forgive me for not speaking as much, knowing I enjoy time to myself, but still somehow earnestly push me to escape my bubble. You respect my decisions, fears and dreams no matter how irrational or unplanned they may be, vowing instead to work through them with me. You stand as an equal no matter how much older and more successful you become and never let distance keep us apart.

All relationships change with time, but I know you will always be my biggest role model. You were the first person who taught me self-awareness and showed me disagreement is worthwhile when combined with integrity and respect. And I know you have many more lessons you will teach me in the coming years and beyond. I am who I am today because of you.


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