Siblings are an essential part of life. I cannot possibly imagine my life, especially my childhood, without my siblings. I am the eldest of three, four and ten years apart; so in consequence, I developed what I like to call the “Mother Hen” syndrome. Loving them and obsessively worrying about them is the closest thing to having children of your own (I imagine), an endeavor that I am simply not ready for just yet…
My little sister is not so little anymore. The notion of this makes me simultaneously happy and sad. Long gone are the days when she would press the redial button on the house phone (remember those?) and perform a fifteen minute rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to the fortunate soul who picked up the call on the other side. Most of the time it would be one of my friends (since I was ALWAYS on the phone). In time, people started calling the house just to get her on the phone and hear her sing; did I mention she was only three? Yeah. Total cutie-pie.
Fortunately, long gone are also the days when she would sneak into my room, channel her inner Pablo Picasso and draw on her face…WITH MY LIPSTICKS. If caught in the act, she would raise her little hands in the air like a little criminal and deny, deny, deny (AND BAWL) even though half of my lipstick was smushed between her chubby fingers.
Sadly though, long gone are the days when we lived under the same roof and she would drive me crazy with Hanna Montana and the Naked Brothers Band (lets not talk about her obsession with the Biebs please) and she would sit in silence just watching me do my makeup, with a look that now I recognize as the same look I had when I watched my mom get ready in the morning; the look of admiration.
My little sister is not so little anymore, so in honor of her 18th birthday, I put together a list of things I would tell my 18 year-old self now:
1. You DO NOT need a man to feel complete, fulfilled or happy.
I grew up mainly in Colombia. Like in many Latin American cultures, the culture was (and still is to some extent) that your worth is determined by who you marry. Period. This is the biggest load of crap in the world. You are who you are, beautiful, intelligent, driven, flawed, insecure, and brave; and you can make whatever you want of yourself, no man needed. A man does not define you and neither does having or not having one.
2. Always strive to remain financially independent.
If possible, contribute to bringing home the bacon. My mom gave up a promising career to stay at home with us three; 11 years later, my parents got divorced leaving my mom in a really tough situation trying to rejoin the workforce. Her struggle made me realize at a young age that I would never put myself in that situation. If your husband does well enough that you don’t have to work, at least have a part-time job in something you enjoy or start a business from home (or a blog!).
3. Get a degree in something you are truly passionate about.
If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, go and find it! Volunteer at a local charity or apply for an internship. Few things are worse than being stuck in a job that you hate, living a life you feel contributes nothing to your personal growth and satisfaction. Successful people are usually passionate about what they do and that makes them GREAT at what they do. If they’re not great at it, at the very least they’re happy. This brings me to my next point…
4. Stay away from credit cards.
The moment you turn 18, you get tons of credit card offers in the mail. Not to mention you finally qualify for all those store cards that promise all sorts of perks and points and discounts. Whenever the 10th girl at Victoria’s Secret asks you if you have their Angel card, say yes, turn around and continue browsing (OR RUN LIKE HELL IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION). The idea of being able to purchase something without having to pay for it (at that moment) is very attractive but it’s a trap. Getting yourself in debt a young age ruins the possibility of that unpaid internship while you’re still attending college, as well as that opportunity to volunteer for a great non-profit organization and, it forces you into getting a random job that probably pays minimum wage and so you can make the minimum payments on your fabulous credit cards and pump gas in your car to get to and from work. I can’t stress this enough. STAY OUT OF DEBT.
5. The first step to finding out what you want is to determine what you don’t want.
This applies to everything in life: education, work and most importantly, relationships. Determine what you will not settle for and what you will not tolerate and BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Don’t make excuses for yourself and don’t make excuses for other people. If your boyfriend is a douchebag and he keeps saying he’s going to change, look at yourself in the mirror and ask the girl staring back at you if this is what she wants… remember, intuition never lies.
6. Intuition NEVER, EVER lies. NEVER.
Your intuition is your BFF. ALWAYS LISTEN TO IT. No, it doesn’t mean you’re a bitch, or a wimp, or a square (my friends LOVE that word), or boring, or uptight, or paranoid. If something in your belly doesn’t feel right it’s because it isn’t. I would’ve saved myself a lot of grief over the years had I always listened to and acted upon my intuition. Lesson learned… the hard way.
7. Don’t be afraid to be a “Bitch”.
This goes hand in hand with points 5 and 6. The majority of outspoken, authoritarian, confident, sharp (all keywords for badass) women are often dubbed as “Bitches”. These are all qualities celebrated in men, but not so often in women, especially in the workplace. The word “Bitch” has also become synonymous with “independent” and “takes-no-shit-from-anyone”. Embrace your inner bitch; like your intuition, she is also your BFF. Stand up for what you believe in, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, and don’t be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. Being liked and being respected are two very different things. Command respect in the way you carry yourself and remember that it can all be done with kindness.
8. Own Your Glam (shameless plug).
To read the foundation of Own Your Glam, check out the About page! What I mean by owning your Glam is, be confident! Your sex appeal is not determined by your hair, or your weight or the size of your boobs. It is determined by your confidence; the unwavering belief that you are beautiful and special and one-of-a-kind. No amount of designer shoes or lipstick can make up for that (even though we feel fabulous wearing them). I grew up hating the fact I was so thin. As I grew out of that, I realized that this is who I am and there is nothing wrong with it and I will never have an ass like Kim Kardashian’s because I am Tatiana, Queen of the Kingdom of Own Your Glam and I am blessed and proud. The sooner you get a grip on that, the happier you will be.
9. Being catty gets you nowhere.
It is in some girls’ nature to be catty. We have ALL been guilty of this at one point or another. This is an ugly trait that should be nipped in the bud. Being catty and commanding respect are two different things and being competitive can be healthy, as long as it doesn’t make you mean and petty. Cattiness is a sign of insecurity. Mature, confident women treat each other with respect and empower each other. Leave the games at the playground.
10. NEVER and I mean EVER, go to bed without removing your makeup.
No further explanation needed…oh, and enjoy those 4 a.m. tacos while you still can. TUMS and I have become real close in the last couple of years.