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Several weeks ago, I was made aware of my sisters’ excursions into my bedroom with measuring tapes and note pads in preparation for my departure to college (which, mind you, is still one year away; their level of excitement is extraordinary). My parents’ giggles quickly diminished my frustration with these shenanigans. They were laughing partly at my sisters’ ignorant confidence in the future setup of our home and partly out of endearment for me and my own inflated indignation.
For most of my life, my parents have divided their attention between me and at least one other child. I am the oldest of four girls, and this has greatly influenced my upbringing and character. For years, if someone asked me how I liked being the oldest, I would respond by curtly referencing my sisters’ come-and-go access to my closet and hidden sweet stash (clearly, hidden *unsuccessfully*). Even now, I have come to count on a messy bed and missing clothes whenever I come home from a trip. A recurring comment which my mom makes when I get frustrated with these “violations” of privacy is that my sisters hijack my things because they admire me.
I recently came home from a weekend away and encountered a mess in my room made by my youngest sister, Ally. I was prepared to visit righteous wrath upon her head until she hugged me and said “I missed you so much that I had to sleep in your room to feel close to you.” Immediately, my mom’s theory struck me. My sisters do not just love me because I am their sister. They look up to me and want to be like me. This position as a role model for my sisters motivates me to live up to the high regard in which they hold me. The foremost way in which I can do this is by treasuring rather than disregarding them. As I have continually and gradually learned to do so, my approach to relationships has transformed. I have come to see the people in my life as blessings rather than as speed bumps, whose relationships need investment and nurturing just like my various activities and aspirations.
Over the past year, my sisters and I have become intrigued by the concept of love languages and understanding each other’s favorite forms of affection. We have discussed and shared our love languages in an effort to better relate to each other. For example, I know that my sister Ella’s love language is quality time; so, when I am seeking to make her feel special I take her out to coffee or a movie. Likewise, I have spent money (which I would normally reserve for my own chai lattes) on Sonic drinks and sno-cones for my sister Ruth, who feels most loved when people buy her gifts. Over this next year, before I leave for college, I plan to continue making such investments in my sisters, and my hope is that twenty years from now they will still treasure my presence and example — even if it means they are coming over to my home to steal sweets out of my fridge.
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