Having a little sister is awesome. Sure, when you were a kid, you sometimes may have been less than enthused about the little ball of joy that just showed up in your house one day, taking attention away from you with her ridiculous adorableness. And, OK, maybe it bothered you that she always wanted to be included in everything, even when she was way too little to fully understand the complexities of the Jem and the Holograms role play you were enacting. And, fine, it got on your nerves when she would borrow your clothes without asking all through high school, and then had the gall to look cooler in them than you. BUT now none of that matters because you are a mature, generally amazing, grown-ass woman. And as grown-ass women, we big sisters are able to recognize that our little sisters are amazing, and we have important things we want them to know, essential wisdom gathered from a wealth of embarrassing mistakes and terrible (terrible) decisions.
So gather ‘round, little sisters, and learn what your grown-ass siblings have discovered the hard way:
1. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind
As women, society often tells us that we should be sweet and pleasant all the time, lest we be seen as “bitches.” But you know what? A grown-ass woman speaks her mind. That means that she says, “I’m angry” when she’s pissed, and “I’m sorry” when she’s done something wrong.
2. It’s OK to make mistakes
It sucks to make a mistake, but they’re simply a part of life. A mistake may feel embarrassing and painful in the moment, but you really will learn from them and become stronger and smarter as a result. When you make a mistake, do you best to remedy the situation, apologize if necessary, and move on. Just think of every slip up as another essential part of your education. When you’re a grown-ass woman, you’ll be glad you learned those lessons.
3. You have to ask for what you want
You can’t expect others to read your mind and somehow fulfill all of your deepest desires. It’s up to you to advocate for yourself. This means you can’t be afraid to ask for what you want, demand respect, and work hard.
4. Being cool is not the most important thing
When you’re young, it’s easy to feel pressured into doing things because the people around you are doing them, and the idea of being perceived as uncool seems like the worst thing that could ever happen to you. I get it. But when you grow up, you realize that relying on other people for validation is no way to live or be happy. If you don’t want to party/drink/hook up/whatever, and your friends deem you uncool for it, guess what? They’re not very good friends. A grown-ass woman finds friends who like her just as she is, or who, if they do want her to change, are really just encouraging her to be happier and healthier—not follow their trends or do things that are bad of the sake of looking cool.
5. You don’t have to have everything figured out (ever)
When you’re a teenager or in your early twenties, it can seem like older people have their lives all figured out. So if you want to be a grown up, you have to get everything figured out, too, right? I’ll let you in on a little secret: No one has their lives all figured out. Grown-ass women are still finding their paths, trying new things, making mistakes, and trying to get their ducks in order. And that’s totally OK.
6. Relationships are complicated and take work.
Disney fairy tales and endless romantic comedies teach us that the hard part in a romantic relationship is finding the right person to be with. If you can only hunt down “The One,” then you’ll be set for a life of easy romantic bliss, forever and ever, amen. But what younger women need to realize is that that isn’t how it works. Yes, it’s hard to find someone you’re deeply compatible with, but the work doesn’t end the first time you kiss. Your relationships will sometimes be amazing, and sometimes they’ll be hard, and sometimes they’ll be amazing and hard at the same time. If you go into dating with the knowledge that relationships are complicated and ever-evolving, you’ll be better able to cope when your own “Happily Ever After” turns out to be not that simple.
7. You can’t make everyone happy all the time, and that’s OK
You can’t please everyone, so don’t waste your blood, sweat, and tears trying. Do your best to do what will make you and the people you care about happy, and don’t beat yourself up if there are a few people left grumbling. It’s up to them to make themselves happy, not you.
8. It’s good to be alone sometimes
Sometimes the most difficult thing you can do is sit in a room and really be with yourself. Not texting, not reading blogs, not looking at cat videos on YouTube. It’s important to have time on your own, to think about how you’re feeling and what you need. (In the video above, Louis C.K. perfectly explains why we need to be alone with ourselves sometimes: We can’t really experience full joy if we don’t let ourselves feel all our other emotions.)
9. Make time to have adventures
Life is short, so take opportunities to have lots of adventures! Move away from home! Travel! Try something new! Although some adventures (like backpacking across Europe) could be difficult financially, remember that getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be expensive; make an effort to meet new people, learn new skills, and explore.
10. Lose the drama
A grown-ass woman has no time for pointless drama. Yes, we love watching people throw wine in each other’s faces on TV, but when you give up drama in your daily life, you’re getting rid of a lot of needless angst and creating space for you to move forward.
11. Life is a work in progress – even when you’re a grown-ass woman
You’re life will continue to grow and change over time, regardless of how mature and self-actualized you are. What you need to do is try to know and love yourself, and keep moving through it. Remember, when things get tough, you can always rely on your big sisters.