What it’s like when you’re the younger sibling by a decade

When I saw a piece someone wrote a few days ago about being older than their siblings by over a decade, it completely resonated with me. It just resonated on the other end of the spectrum — I’m 10 years younger than my older sister. Being a full decade younger than your sibling can be anything from awesome, to frustrating, to at times, feeling completely and utterly surreal. Here’s what I’ve learned growing up in my family:

You’ll miss out on a lot of each other growing up…

My sister is 10 years older than me, and my brother is seven years older. The earliest memories I have of my older sister and brother are from when they were in high school. I didn’t get to see them in elementary school or hold them when they were babies. I didn’t get to watch them grow up and go through their awkward phases. I remember them in their angsty, stressed teenage years. The years when they spent the majority of their time in their rooms on their laptops. My sister moved to Boston for college when I was seven years old. I have very few memories of her before that, and the ones I do have are hazy. I remember sharing a room with her and watching her work on history projects and interrupting her to ask who John F. Kennedy was. I remember opening the door to our room one night to find her cross-legged on the floor, college brochures spread out before her as she agonized over her final decisions. My brother followed soon after and went to school in Colorado.

I couldn’t really connect with either of them when I was young. They were moving away, ready to become adults. I was learning how to write cursive. It’s sad to look back on it now and think about how much time we missed out on with each other. They were too busy growing up and I was too busy learning how to read.

…but they’ll have the best advice.

My older siblings have the best advice (although my sister always tells me to run my brother’s advice through her first). They’ve already been through what I’m going through and have the perspective to tell me that it’s all going to be okay. (Got a B last semester? You’ll survive. Didn’t get a homecoming date? Friends are better anyways). They always help me calm down and think of the bigger picture.

They can do things for you other siblings can’t…

Like having you over for dinner, taking you to Disneyland and the movies, and treating you to a fancy dinner on your 17th birthday. Those are the perks of being an adult and having a job. I’ve even had high school teachers who instantly liked me because they had my siblings years ago.

…but they also have their own lives.

Sometimes I’ll go months without seeing my older brother and sister. I live in Los Angeles but my brother lives in Denver, so I only see him for holidays. Even my sister, who lives down the street from us, gets really busy and can go weeks without talking to me. She has her own life, complete with a husband, a job, and friends. Add to that my classes, homework, and church, and it’s no surprise that our schedules can be pretty incompatible. It’s definitely not unusual for us to plan hangouts a month before.

Your situations can be incredibly different.

While I’m obsessing over college and exams, my older siblings can be stressed over work or relationships. Sometimes, the things we’re going through are so incredibly different it’s hard to even believe that we’re related. But the amazing thing is that even through all of our differences, we’re still able to find ways to connect and understand each other.

You don’t fight over silly things.

There’s literally never any fighting over the remote control or a cute outfit. Older siblings are too mature to be petty and don’t have time for it even if they wanted to. When you do get in fights, you resolve them like adults (meaning no hair-pulling or phone-throwing).

Most importantly, no matter what, they’ll always be family.

As far apart in age as you may be, you’re still family. You lived together, maybe even shared a room. You have pictures of them when they had braces and awkward hair, as flawless as they may look now. You share a bond with them that can’t be broken by anyone. Because that’s family.

I won’t lie and say I haven’t wished for a sibling who was only a year or two older than me. In fact, I still think that would be awesome (the more the merrier). But in the end, I’m glad this was the card I was dealt. I can’t imagine not having two way older siblings.

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