I have a younger brother. He is simultaneously the complete bane of my existence and the single most important person in my entire life. That bond is a difficult one to describe, especially to someone who is not a big sister.

Being an older sister is really something that only other older sisters can truly understand. It’s being an enemy and a role model, being constantly annoyed and constantly loved, being the epitome of cool and eye-rollingly adult. It’s a life of oxymorons, and lemme tell ya, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here are a few hallmarks of that big sister life that I know all the other big sisters out there will totally understand. Big sisters of the world unite! You know we’re the ones holding it down.

You have the most intense fights ever . . . for five minutes at a time.

You scream at your younger sibling and likely then cry. Words are exchanged so crass they’d make a sailor cringe. But in five minutes, it’s all over. Often, no one even apologizes . . . you guys just get sick of it and all is well.

Honesty. Brutal, brutal honesty.

There are times when you think you’re super cool . . . maybe a little too cool. But your younger sibling isn’t afraid to knock you down a peg or two when you need it. On the other hand, your sibling can act a little bratty and entitled, and you aren’t afraid to let them know that too. The honesty can be a little jarring, but it’s nice to have someone in your life who will always tell it like it is.

Being expected to set a good example, all of the time.

Listen, Mom, let’s make them make their own mistakes. Everyone has to nurse a hangover at some point.

Family gatherings are so much better with your sibling.

Once your younger sibling is old enough to realize that your family is totally insane, you stick together like glue at gatherings. That way, you can giggle and roll your eyes together when Aunt Ethel has a little too much wine.

“I remember going through that stage” crosses your mind all the time.

Your younger sibling has a crush and thinks the best way to deal with it is by totally ignoring the person? Yeah, you remember doing that. Your younger sibling failed their first test? Yep, totally been there. Your younger sibling made your mom SUPER mad and now they have no idea what to do? Uh huh. Your younger sibling is terrified to go to college? Been there too.

During most major life changes your sibling goes through, you can recognize and acknowledge exactly what they’re feeling. You’ve been there.

You become the ultimate counselor.

Because of that, you are the one they always go to. Parents and other grown up figures just wouldn’t understand as well as their big sister would. You are the ultimate advice giver. You can give seriously tough love while still wiping away their tears . . . it’s actually a very strange dynamic.

“Oh, you’re going out? Bring your [brother or sister] along, will you?”

How many times have you heard this phrase from an older relative? So obnoxious.

But then your friends beg you to bring them as well, because admittedly, your sibling is pretty cool.

Eventually, your friends became your sibling’s friends . . . because your sibling is super hilarious, and really cool. And strangely enough, you don’t mind it as much as you used to.

That moment when it occurs to you that they have somehow grown up and become, like, a real person?

One day, you’ll look at your sibling and realize, “wow! They’re not just my little sibling — they’re a person!” It feels like yesterday that they were this tiny annoying gnat following you around and copying every single thing you did. Now, they’re applying to colleges or moving into their first apartment or moving to a new country! OH, the feels. (For those of you big sisters who still have very little siblings, trust me, you’ll have this feeling before you know it.)

Even when you’re grown ups younger siblings can be SO annoying. . .

Younger siblings are experts at knowing which buttons to push. It’s like they have some app installed in their brains that tells them exactly what to do to drive their older sisters insane.

. . . but if anyone messes with them, there’s hell to pay.

It goes without saying: you’re the only one allowed to yell at them. It’s an older sister’s job, and nobody else’s. If anyone else messes with your younger sibling, they better start running, because you’re protective and you aren’t afraid to show it.

You just can’t imagine living without them.

Even when they drive you absolutely up the wall, that unconditional love will just never stop. You couldn’t live without them and you need them as much as they need you. That’s a seriously fierce love feeling. That said, hopefully they don’t read this. You don’t need to forfeit all your big sister street cred.

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