What I want to tell my sister on her graduation day
Let me tell you about my sister. She walks with an ease I want to learn and dresses for no one but herself. Her laugh is light and full of life, and she has my mother’s eyes. Her hair curls more than mine, and she has a smile never touched by metal braces. She sees the world through creative, unique eyes and confidence radiates out of her when she dances to the sound of her own heart.
I always looked to my sister for guidance. From a young age, I had to take a bite from my sister’s food before I could dig into my own. I have been wearing her hand-me-downs with pride since I can remember. I emulated up to her because everything she did, she did better than me. My young brain couldn’t think of anyone better to be. Eventually, I became comfortable in our differences. I accepted my originality. I knew I couldn’t be her replica, but I never stopped looking to her for guidance. Even when she didn’t see it, she inspired me.
During her senior year of high school, she decided to attend Savannah College of Art and Design. When people around her tried to tell her it was “merely art school,” she closed off her ears and proceeded anyway. She chose to follow her dreams. In a small town, surrounded by people who didn’t leave, my sister took a chance. Now, four years later, she is entering the real word, art degree in hand. Over the years, she honed her craft and found her love for animation. She is a true rock star. Even when life pushed her down, she fought back. When our family image changed, she continued improving herself. With resilience and strength, she didn’t give up on her dreams. And by doing so, she showed me why I shouldn’t give up on mine.
The summer before I started college I chose to take a leap into the unknown. I applied to college thinking that eventually I’d apply to medical school. I told myself I would work in a lab during the day and write at night, placing my dream on the back burner of my future life. At the time, I was too scared to chase what I truly wanted. I thought I needed a “practical” path for my life and that didn’t include a career in writing. I was close to giving up on a dream I hadn’t even tried pursuing yet. Then my sister stepped in.
The day I graduated, she played a slide show of my life—three songs and too many pictures to count. She ended it with a picture of me holding my college acceptance letter, a song about building mountains and daydreams playing in the background. In those last five seconds, I saw the potential for a different and terrifying future—a better one than I first imagined for myself. I saw one that might follow in my sister’s footsteps. That summer I changed my intended concentration from Biochemistry to English and Literary Arts. Like my sister, I chose to take a chance.
While it was a small chance, I took it nonetheless. During my first semester, I called my sister more times than I probably should have. She would answer and tell me I was okay, that I was growing, that I was taking risks. Each conversation left me with ease and confidence. One particular day when I was worrying about the unknown future, she encouraged me to put my writing out into the world. She reminded me the worst thing was someone said no. So I did. And six months later, I am still putting my voice out there. She believed in my ability to succeed like I believed in her ability to conquer the art world.
Since then, my sister has continued to believe in me. She always answers my freak-out calls, and is there to read whatever I am feeling too nervous to share. While chasing her own dreams, she continues to support mine. Now, it’s my turn.
Today, my sister graduates from college, with what I am sure is a lot of fear and hope for the future. She is taking on the real world with confidence and skill, ready to start her career as an animator. As her baby sister, I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more inspired. After watching my sister fight through hardships in life and difficulties in school, I believe any dream is possible if you want it enough. My sister showed me that I should never back down from my future, that I should continuously take chances, and that a little bit of support goes a long way. For the next three years, my sister’s success and accomplishments will continue to remind me the importance of dreaming and chasing and believing. For the next three years, I hope to be there for my sister in all the ways she was there for me. But if I can’t be, I know she will be okay. She is my older sister, and she is a warrior.