My little brother and I are five and a half years apart and even though I’m older, he’s been known to teach me a thing or two. Like most siblings, we grew up fighting over who got the bigger room and who got to push the buttons in the elevator. But now that I’m out of college and he’s getting ready to head off to college we’ve gotten so close and I couldn’t be happier. He really is my best friend and even though we still drive each other crazy, I really can’t imagine what I’d do without having my not-so-little brother in my life.
One of the things I love the most about him is how wise he can be when he wants. Sure, he’s the biggest goofball and he always knows how to make me laugh - but this wouldn’t be a true life lessons series if I didn’t share all of the things he’s taught me since coming into my life almost 18 years ago.
Take a look at some of the things my little brother has taught me:
Fight big, love big.
I don’t know what it is about siblings but one thing every sibling pair, group, etc. has in common is we know how to fight big. Every sibling knows exactly the right buttons to push to get you to lose your ever-loving sh*t faster than anyone else on the planet. My brother and I are like this on steroids. We will get in full-blown screaming matches if we make each other mad enough. The thing is, my brother might fight big but he always knows how to fix it. It never fails that even after our biggest fights he’s the first one to say how much he loves me. Sometimes I wish I was able to express how much I love people the way he can. Connor has this innate ability to express how much he loves someone even after they've fought with him or upset him. Over our years of fighting and making up Connor has taught me that no matter how angry you are with someone, you never stop loving them just as much.
Take time to laugh, especially at the little things.
Connor has this laugh that just lights up a room. Sometimes when I'm home I can hear it from downstairs when he's playing video games in his room. My favorite thing is when he makes himself laugh just by the things he thinks up in his head. Connor has always been someone who can laugh at even the smallest things, and he's able to turn the most mundane tasks into some of the best memories just by finding something funny about them. I'm the opposite. I've always been the more stoic, serious sibling. It used to drive me crazy when he would laugh over things he saw out the window on our drives around town. I never understood why he was so happy all the time and how he seemed to just have no cares at all. But, eventually, after I moved away and didn't hear the sound of him chuckling to himself in another room every day, I realized that the reason he always seems to find the good in everything and everyone is that he always takes the time to find something to laugh at every day. Even if that something is himself.
Being the biggest personality in the room doesn’t mean being the center of attention.
It's not hard to tell when my brother enters a room. He always finds a way to let his big, fun-loving, goofy personality shine no matter what the setting is. Whether it's talking to adults or hanging out with his friends or even spending time with kids younger than him, Connor can interact with anyone and doesn't lose himself or change his personality to match the situation. I've always admired Connor's big personality and his ability to let his personality shine no matter what, but what I've learned the most from him is that having a big personality doesn't mean you need to be the center of attention. Connor is by nature a bit of a shy kid when you first meet him. Granted he takes all of 5 minutes to get comfortable, he still knows how it feels to be nervous in a new setting. I think that's why he's so good at navigating social scenes with his Texas-sized personality. He knows what it feels like to walk into a room and be confronted by someone who wants nothing more than everyone to pay attention to them - and believe me that's something that he can't stand. So, while he does have a massive personality he knows exactly how to let it shine through without allowing it to overtake a room.
Pay attention to the small stuff.
Perhaps one of the best things about Connor is his ability to remember the tiniest detail. This is great when he's using this particular talent to be nice to me, but when we were younger and he would use this as a little way of torturing me - not so much. In all seriousness, Connor is always trying to recall even the tiniest detail to use when helping someone. I remember a time right after he got his license I agreed to let him drive on one of our brother-sister outings (scary I know). It also happened to be a day where I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, just all-around awful, and to be perfectly honest I was being downright bitchy. This boy, all of 16 years old, drove us to my favorite coffee shop unprovoked and proceeded to buy me my favorite latte without even having to ask me once what my order was. Impressive considering it was one of the first times he ever went with me to get coffee and certainly the first time he'd ever ordered for the both of us. He's always doing things like this. Doing small things, or using small details only he's noticed to make someone else happy or make their day a little better. Now, I try to do this for other people in my life, because watching him do this makes me so happy and I know how it feels when someone simply pays attention.
Life’s too short to be so serious.
Like I've said, this kid is goofy. He loves to laugh and joke around, and often times he makes himself laugh over and over just by the things he thinks up in his head. Connor's ability to find the laughter and humor in things is something I wish I was able to do. Sometimes I watch him and think "Honest to God, I wish I knew what went on in his head.". Connor's outlook on life is just so carefree and fun. Of course, when he needs to be serious he can be, and he doesn't have a naive view of the world where he doesn't think bad situations arise and whatnot, but he just doesn't take life too seriously. Now that I'm out of the house and away from his never-ending supply of poorly thought-up jokes I try and be more like him with my outlook on life. To him, life is too short not to laugh and have fun, and I, being the more serious sibling needs to have a little more of that outlook on life.
Always look at the dessert menu.
I've got quite the sweet tooth but I typically skip over the dessert menu whenever I go out to eat. Connor - yeah, he's the opposite. This kid looks at a dessert menu every. single. time. we go out to eat. I used to think it was annoying and a waste of time, especially if we both knew we weren't ordering anything. But, watching him I realized it wasn't so much that I was annoyed he was wasting time - it was that I didn't understand his relationship with food. My brother has never let people's opinions or society's views on food, health, wellness, etc. get in the way of him enjoying life - especially when it comes to food. This might seem strange to some people, but watching him check out the dessert menu, even if he decided against getting anything really taught me the value of enjoying life in whatever way you want.
Sweatpants go perfectly with any occasion.
I'm always up for comfy clothes and a good pair of sweatpants. But Connor lives in them. Seriously, I think if he could wear sweatpants every day for the rest of his life he would. Sure, he'll get dressed up if he needs to but if it was up to him sweatpants would be included in the dressier outfits in his closet. Sometimes, it drives me crazy. Like, when we go to dinner and he refuses to put a pair of jeans on and opts for the same sweatpants he's had for the past 4 years. But, there's also something admirable about it. To him, it doesn't matter what you're wearing as long as you're having fun and spending time doing what you love, with who you love. He doesn't focus on what pants he's wearing - not because he doesn't care what he looks like, but to him, there are other things to worry about and focus on.
Always be open to trying new things.
I've always been the more reserved sibling...and the pickier sibling... I like what I like and I know my limits. Connor is the exact opposite. This kid will try anything and I mean anything. He has no limits when it comes to new experiences. I don't know how he does it most of the time but he's just fearless. Over the past year, I've tried to become more like this; more willing to try new things and experiences. What I've realized is staying inside your comfort zone, while it might be safe and you might be happy, isn't as exciting as trying something new. Connor does this without even thinking about it and it makes me so happy to see just how much he enjoys life, so maybe he's on to something here.
These are just some of the things I've learned from my little brother over the years. Despite our bickering and brother-sister fighting, I can't imagine my life without him there to make me laugh or to push me to be better every day. I'd like to think I've taught him a thing or two over the last few years but we'll let him decide that.
Check out the Actually Tho podcast to hear me talk about everything my brother's taught me too!