A Letter to My Baby Sister on her College Graduation Day

Dear RaeRae, (Can I still call you RaeRae even though you’re a fancy, degree-wielding grown-up now?)

Congratulations, Quijanna! You’ve achieved the goal you set when you told me around age 4 that you wanted to “climb the mountain of higher learning.” You found a way to mow down obstacles and prove your haters wrong. You have climbed that mountain of higher learning LIKE. A. BOSS.

“Rae Graduation

Rae Graduation

I am so proud of you — I literally can’t even! You are the hardest working Millennial I know and your resumé shows a wisdom and ambition far beyond your 22 years. While you’re wrapping up your umpteenth internship and preparing to enter the workforce with more experience than any entry level PR/Advertising major I’ve ever seen, at the same time in my life I was moving back home with Mom & Dad for the summer to be a hostess at Carrabba’s and figure out what in the world I was doing with my life.

And it’s not like I had YouTube or Snapchat to distract me back then… I really just didn’t have a clue. On the other hand, you have all the clues, and you’ve been on the path to success for so many years already. I hope you know just what a rare talent you are.

“RAE

RAE GRADUATION

And I also hope you know that who you are as a person is always going to be more important than what you do.

I thank the Lord every day for sending you my way, though admittedly, we got off to a rocky start. I was so excited to have a baby sister, because at that time, the whole baby brother thing was not working out. For the first several months of your life though, if I may speak freely, you were a tiny, disappointing blob. You just lay there in your crib or your swing doing nothing but eating and spitting up.

As a 12-year-old who’d prayed for a fun partner for so long, I felt cheated!

“Graduation"

Graduation

But then you started giggling and making endearing snorting noises, and we decided to keep you and train you up as one of us. The few, the odd, the Orths.

Despite a few infamous nail polish mishaps, many late nights waking up to feed your chubby baby face and about a zillion diaper changes, your funny little personality grew on me. Even when I was a wretched, evil teenager, I still liked you. Even when I was threatening to sell you to the gypsies or feed you to the “A-lees,” you have always been my favorite sister.

Rae 6

A million hilarious stories, countless hours of long-distance phone calls (remember long distance?!), world travels (Fwaaaaance!) and lots of pranks on Hodgie later, we’ve somehow arrived at your college graduation. I can’t remember when you went from the kid photo-bombing all my prom pictures to my beautiful BFF, but that transition has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

From boring baby to mischievous toddler to awkward ‘tween to long-legged America’s Next Top Model semifinalist to head-turning wing-woman, you’ve become my best friend and confidante, not to mention business partner, roommate, maid of honor and twin, 12-years apart. (It’s a medical miracle!)

Rae 11

Rae Graduation

Rae Graduation

Rae Graduation

Somehow, even though we only lived together for 6 years before I left for college, we’re as close as Jane and Lizzie ever could be. You have been there for me through every move, breakup, pet death, work disaster, car accident and wedding nightmare. You make sure my hair isn’t frizzing on The Today Show, you approve my every wardrobe decision and you constantly wow me with your brilliant, creative social media ideas.

Funny how a “surprise” sister was no surprise to God – He knew exactly what he was doing when he created you.

“graduation"

graduation

Now for the sisterly advice – you knew it was coming, right?

You’ve caught on to this already, but the fine print of adulthood is not terribly exciting. The paperwork and the never-ending phone calls it takes just to stay alive, out of debt and on the IRS’ good side are significantly meh. But aside from all that soul-sucking admin, adulting can be pretty great. Here are my top tips, in true professional blogger older sister format:

  1. Give, give and give some more. Sponsor a Compassion child as soon as you’re able and always be more generous than you think you can be.
  2. Don’t rush into getting a job. Real jobs are for suckers. Move into my house and take care of me.
  3. Listen to me about boys. You know I’m right.
  4. Stay out of debt & mind your credit. Mayor of Boringtown, U.S.A. here. But for real. Debt is a master you don’t want to be enslaved to.
  5. Stand up for yourself. You remember my first arduous years in PR. Set boundaries early on and know that work-life balance is your right. There’s too much life to be lived to spend all your time in a cubicle.

The good news is that you already have such a strong sense of who you are. I spent my 20s trying to figure myself out, and here you are, so uniquely and unapologetically you. What a gift that is! You’re not a boring, average pencil pusher who will be satisfied with the status quo. You’ve always marched to the beat of your own drum, and on your tip-toes, nonetheless.

Rae 12

You have everything you need to rock out at adulting – your family cheering you on, your creativity and your quick wit and your faith to guide you every step of the way.

Rachel, today we are celebrating one of your biggest accomplishments, and even more than that, celebrating the kind, funny, smart woman you’ve become. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you! Soak it in today, my Slytherin sister. Your time is now! 

Rae 15

I could write about 70,000 more words about how great you are and how proud I am, so I’ll leave you with this: carpe diem, wear sunscreen, trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t eat refined sugars — seriously. Everything else will fall into place just how it’s supposed to.

In the words of wise Andy Dwyer, “Catch your dreams!”

Love, Ange

p.s. Please come live with me.

Rae 9

Friends, you’ve seen RaeRae grow up before your very eyes on these pages. Do you have any advice as she enters the working world?

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • August 06, 2016

    Aww what a sweet post! All the best with your future endeavours! Make mistakes in your career, because it’s the best way to learn what you love and what you could live without! 🙂
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  • August 06, 2016
    Brad

    Well said Ange! RaeRae you were always such a cute little turd. I will always remember you running around the yard in your underwear and playing in the dirt. Indeed a Tomboy at heart. Your hair was so curly and springy, I loved driving you crazy by pulling them straight and watch them pop back into place. That was so long ago. I think I took the second picture down from the top of this blog. Eitherway thats how I remember you. So full of joy and always wanting to goof around. My only advice is to keep that up, bring joy to the world, and find happiness or laughter in the difficult times of adulthood. You’re brilliant, and I am sure you will crush your goals! I too am proud of you and I wish you luck on your journey. PS. We have a spare bedroom here in Germany, you’re welcome to crash in it, our doors are always open!

  • August 06, 2016
    Jamie

    RaeRae… Hope you got my card…. What an accomplishment.. and how lucky you are to have a big sister who loves and supports you in all…… (Go Live with her)!!!!!!!
    Love to you,
    Aunti J.

  • August 08, 2016
    Rachel

    SO. MANY. HAIR. COLORS.

  • August 08, 2016

    Happy graduation, Rae Rae! That first photo could not be more perfect!
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