ShareThis Page
News Columnists

Young Voices: Life lessons offered for baby sister at graduation

| Monday, June 1, 2009

The books, the freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils, the Trapper Keeper binder that held all my important papers: I was in first grade and had fallen absolutely in love with learning.

My little sister, Ali, was not yet in kindergarten, and was always curious about what I was doing in school. Ever the nerd, I seized the opportunity to play teacher and student. I'd sit her down and repeat the lessons I'd learned in school, as best I could, and she would listen attentively.

Even at a young age, showing her how two plus two could equal four, I felt some sort of responsibility to be the big sister, to act as a guide as she followed closely behind me. Despite the fact that she is only two years younger, I've always thought of Ali as my baby sister.

Understandably, then, it's strange for me that this Thursday, she will don a cap and gown and stand with her class for college graduation. The ceremony signifies a change that's been a long time in coming. My little sister is an adult, an educated young person very capable of supporting herself as she enters the "real world."

It doesn't seem possible that she can be at this point in her life. It was only yesterday that she was a 4-year-old, looking up to me as if I had all the answers.

I'm probably unsettled by the fact that, in thinking about Ali as an adult, I'm also shifting the way I view myself. True, there have been (major) hints of the fact that I'm gradually fleeing the nest -- my upcoming wedding, for instance -- but I still tend to think of myself as barely out of college, as someone who is more or less a kid. That becomes a bit more difficult when my two-years-younger sibling is a college graduate.

The hardest thing about her graduation is that I've always felt the need to provide guidance to Ali, to be the big sister, but the truth is, I don't yet know that much about adult life. I'm still very much growing into it myself. The best advice I can give her as she moves into this "real world" can probably be boiled down into four sentences:

• Family is unbelievably important, and we have to make the most of the time we have with the ones we love.

• Stay true to your dreams, and don't let anyone or anything sway you.

• Find someone or something you love -- or better, both -- and hold on tight.

• And finally, you have to choose your own happiness, each and every day.

I'm as sure of these four things as I was about two plus two all those years ago. Beyond that, I'm still learning. But I'm excited to experience this crazy adult world with her.

Congratulations, baby sister. I am so proud of you.

Megan Bode of Upper St. Clair, is a second-year law student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me