Whether I actually want to listen to her advice or not, I must admit that half the time, it is damn good advice. This age gap hasn’t always been easy to deal with, though. I mean, how much could an 18-year-old really tell her five-year-old little sister?

And, when I was in my awkward middle-school phase, I definitely didn’t want to hear anything she had to say. But now that I’m in college, I’m all ears. I practically I run to my sister for everything: when my roommate annoys me, when I’m having boy troubles or when I need a second opinion on my Friday night outfit.

Coming back home during breaks from school, I have been grateful enough to spend a lot more time with her. Here are some of the things she has taught me in recent years:

1. Take every opportunity you can.

My sister is very headstrong and doesn’t let anyone tell her no. She pushes me to take advantage of all the resources around me.

She has had a lot of jobs in her life, and she knows the value of networking and making yourself known.

She also knows the value of a dollar; so if it’s free, take it!

2. Don’t be afraid to be different.

Being the eldest sibling, my sister got the chance to experiment with different clothes, hairstyles, music and just about anything else you can experiment with in life.

She understands what it’s like to discover who you are, but be confused and lost while you’re doing it.

If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be willing to step out of my comfort zone when it came to things like talking to new people or trying new foods.

3. It will be okay.

This is probably the most important thing my sister has taught me. When your friends say it or when your parents say it, it just isn’t the same.

When I hear it from my friends, sometimes it feels like they just say that because they’re supposed to and want me to feel better.

When my parents say it, all I can think is, “Ugh, they just don’t understand!”

When I hear it from my sister, I genuinely believe everything will be okay.

Even though she is much older than I am, I feel connected to her in a way that only a girl with a sister could ever understand.

I grew up with her. I’ve seen her go through tough times and I’ve seen her come out of them as an even stronger woman. Seeing this restores the faith I have for myself.

4. It doesn’t hurt to call Mom once in a while.

Everyone says your relationship with your mother varies at different stages in your life.

Having an older sister, I have seen this relationship morph from teenage angst to mature conversations about grown-up things, like taxes and insurance.

At this stage in my life, I’m still hesitant to call my mom just to chitchat.

Yet, having an older sister has matured me and reassured me that sometimes, Mom does have all the answers — especially when I need help in the kitchen.

5. Don’t chase boys.

My sister has seen me cry about boys and I’ve seen her at low points as well. Hell, we’ve even sat in the car and cried together!

The most important lesson she has taught me about boys is not to run after them like puppies.

She has had her fair share of relationships, and knows that the most important thing in your life is you.

Without her, I wouldn’t have known to stop wasting my time chasing after a boy who doesn’t deserve me. She taught me to know my worth.

Lastly, she taught me that we never stop growing.

Now, at 32 years old, I still see my sister evolving. Life will constantly throw you curveballs and you will constantly have to figure out how to deal with them.

It can be easy to lose yourself from time to time, but my sister has taught me that you can never be finished working on yourself.

My sister is my inspiration. I have grown up with her and we will grow old together, too.

I can picture us in the nursing home with her bossing me around, telling me to take my medication or to stop staying up so late playing bingo.

Being over a decade older than me, my sister knows what she’s talking about. I will forever be thankful that I have her as my own, personal shrink, and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

This article was written by Jayna Taylor-Smith and was originally posted on Elite Daily.

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