I have four siblings and I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because of that. Growing up, I always had a friend by my side, whether it was while walking to school, exploring on vacation, or commiserating about dumb rules (sorry, mom and dad).
And as an adult, I’m just as lucky to be close with all of my siblings and have a unique and special relationship with each one, including my one younger brother.
Being an older sister to a little brother who eventually grows up to be bigger than you can create a funny dynamic.
But despite the fact that you, little brother, are the big one now and, despite the fact that you’re an independent and successful adult, part of me will always feel like your protector.
And as we grow, together as siblings and separately as individuals, I will always wish for you these 10 things.
1. I hope you find a partner who makes you laugh, challenges you intellectually, and looks to you not as a caretaker or “man of the house,” but as a partner, an equal, and a friend.
2. I hope you look to that partner as an equal and a friend and treat her with the same respect you give — and expect that my own partner or any man gives — me. I hope you tell her you love her every day.
3. I hope that you choose a career path based not on the salary it will garner you or the impressive title it will hold, but on your passion. I hope you follow that passion from the start, and always do what makes you happy.
4. I hope you always know that, no matter how old we get, when we are both passengers in a car, I get shotgun.
5. I hope you also know that just because something makes you happy doesn’t mean it’s going to always be easy. Everything worth having — whether that’s a great career, a loving relationship, or a solid friendship — takes commitment and work. But don’t let those hard parts derail you; you can make it through them.
6. I hope that, when dressing, you stick to trim-fit everything, pants without cargo pockets, and avoid suits-and-sneakers at all costs. Baggy clothing does not a man make.
7. I hope that if you have kids, you’re present for them, no matter how demanding your job is or how stressful raising those kids may be. I hope you read their papers, go to their swim meets, listen to their piano practice, and encourage them to follow their dreams.
8. I hope that, if I have kids, you love them as your own. Dote on them, hug them, tell them you love them, and be an uncle they can respect, look up to, and be friends with.
9. I hope that, if and when you see a woman being mistreated, you stand up for her, just like you would — and have done — for me.
10. I hope that you set great expectations for yourself, but also cut yourself some slack. Despite societal pressures, the rat race, or non-stop social media humblebrags, I hope you always know that you’re human and, as long as you’re trying your hardest, being kind, and giving life your all, you will be OK.
Emma Sarran Webster is a freelance writer and editor, contributing to sites like Teen Vogue, Allure and Michigan Ave Mag. Catch her on Instagram and Twitter for more.