It struck me just the other day, that it’s been a whole ten years since I was 16. I remember it being an age of a hundred different emotions and a hundred different questions; I wasn’t necessarily the happiest teenager anyway, but throw in the overcharged emotions, the over-active brain, the drama that only school can bring, and the heavy weight of exams and career choices, and it all seems too much to bear at such a young age.
Then I got to thinking about my little sister, who herself is now at that pivotal age. I’ve thought about what I would want 16 year old me to know then, and what I’d want my 16 year old sister to know now, and came up with this.
This is my letter to you, little sis.
I’ve always been pretty maternal over you, given our ten year age gap; I feel like this absolute need to protect you, to wrap you in cotton wool, and I find myself wishing – like I imagine actual mums do – that you could’ve stayed little forever. I remember the night you were born – a frizzy haired ten year old sat eagerly on the sofa, cushions neatly tucked under her arms in prime baby-holding position – and in you came. Red faced, tiny and absolutely the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I was the first to hold you. You had the most beautiful blonde ringlets when you were small and you couldn’t say ‘Katie’ for the longest time – only ‘Cakey’; you were in love with the Disney princesses and I’d spend hours building Sylvanian Families houses with you. You’d let me play with your long Rapunzel-like hair and you’d take the part of Timbaland so I could be Nelly Furtado when we sang Promiscuous Girl on Singstar. As you got older, we’d put on performances together, from Disney songs to movies like Oliver! where we’d give it all our welly on Oom Pah Pah!
Then came the celebrity crushes, the curiosity about makeup, the interest in what you were wearing – the trainers you had to have because everybody else did – the posters on the walls: & suddenly, out of nowhere, in what felt like the space of a week, you were grown up. Not really grown up of course, but almost a world away from the little girl you were. You had a little more attitude about you, you were stubborn at times and cheeky too – your confidence soared and I found myself wishing I could be like you. You were blossoming in to this little lady now, and I realised how precious time is, and how grateful I am for the ten years between us – it had meant I’d seen and would remember every inch of you growing up.
Now you’re 16, and it frightens the life out of me. Soon you’ll take your exams, you’ll be choosing what to study next, you’ll even be talking about University – and knowing how ambitious you are, you’ll probably want to study abroad. You are the opposite of everything I was at your age. I was emotional, sensitive and I sure as hell didn’t try as hard as I could at school – I gave up on myself, and I wasn’t well. But you, you are the strongest person I know. This world can be as scary as it is wonderful, and as much as it frightens me that my baby sister is going to go out into it, I’m so excited to see what you do with it!
You have such a fiery personality that I have no fear about you looking after yourself – but you’re at an age where boys will be dicks, girls will be backstabbers and life will generally kick you in the arse, and I know that deep down your sensitive. Don’t let anybody get you down or get in the way; and if someone treats you bad, don’t let them do it again. You’re far too special to let anybody take advantage of everything that you are. Oh & hold on tight to the friends that stick by you no matter what – some of the best friends I have now, I met at school.
Most importantly, never lose sight of who you are; I know that you’re as strong willed as they come, but promise me you’ll never let anybody dull your sparkle. & in those moments where you think you’ve screwed up or failed at something, always make sure those moments are temporary. We don’t fail, we learn. Be the little fighter that I know you are, and have the resolve that I didn’t, to pick yourself back up and try again.
My wish for you is that you keep that fire in your belly burning; stay curious always, fight for what you want and be picky about who you let in your life. Always remember that there is a world outside your front door – you’re not confined to four walls, you were born to see things. Go on adventures, learn new languages, ask questions, take photographs and don’t take life so seriously that you forget what it is to belly laugh. You’ve always had such a wicked sense of humour, and the world needs a little bit more of that.
Finally, I want to say sorry – I’m sorry for all the times I rolled my eyes at you for talking about a boy, or telling you you weren’t allowed boyfriends and had to study; for not being patient with you when you were down or brushing off the fact that your friend had treated you crappy. I haven’t always been there when I could have been, and I know I don’t get to see you now; but know that you are always in my thoughts, and if you ever need me, you know where I am. Most importantly, always know that I love you more than I can say, & not only will you always be the little girl I’ll be forever embarrassingly maternal over (sorry ’bout that), but you’ll always be one of my best friends. You’re wise beyond your years, insanely talented and a firecracker, and I’m blessed to have you for a sister.
Love always, Katie (Cakey) xx
Come find me on Instagram: @katscarlettj Twitter: @katiessanctuary