An Open Letter To My Little Cousin.

Some of the best people in my life are those who I know will always be in it.

Let me start off by saying I love you. I couldn’t imagine my life without you, and I never want to. I’m not sure how much time I have left on this earth or what life has in store for me. But I felt the need to write this and share it with the world. It will always be floating in the land of the Internet.

Best friends can come in all types and can be found at times and places when you least expect it. Sometimes you find a relationship so unique and close that you couldn’t imagine it being with anyone else. Family members can even show what real friendship should feel like. For those of us who don’t have or live with siblings, a cousin can easily become your life-long friend and create an unbreakable bond.

Cousins are the people who can laugh at your crazy family members with you and not feel ashamed about it. It may seem obvious that a cousin can fit the bill for being a best friend, given that you are family and have shared so much time together. You have countless memories from a young age (that you still laugh at a decade later) and have been making more since your paths crossed. You know how to make each other ugly laugh, each other’s secrets, embarrassing stories, but overall share a strong sense of loyalty. They are a wise source of advice when sometimes you feel like you don’t have or want another person to look to. There is a sense of humor that only they can bring out in you, and you know how to get each other going, with everything just seeming funnier with them in the mix. They get you through awkward family events and provide comedic relief. You laugh at old cringe-worthy photos, as you’ve seen each other at your best and worst in more ways than one; who else could you be THAT comfortable with? Even the distance doesn’t impede your connection, and you still get excited at the thought of taking road trips to see each other and catch up or seeing them at the next family gathering.

You do everything in your abilities to love them and support them for who they are and encourage them to apologetically love themselves for the amazing people they are. Next time you’re laughing until your sides hurt with your cousins, be thankful for the blessing and sweet one-of-a-kind friendship they have given you.

It’s weird. I never got to see you as a baby, didn’t watch you learn how to walk, how to talk, how to live. I knew that you existed but I didn’t know you. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden you’re in middle school. It’s scary. To me, you’ll always be my little cousin, my little sister, and there are just a few things I want you to know before I’m unable to.

Don’t rush everything like I did. I couldn’t wait to grow up, to get my license, to be able to drink, I just kept wishing time would go by faster. I needed to get to the next level of live, in the least amount of time, but I quickly came to realize life goes by way to fast to keep wishing and waiting for the next big thing to happen. Seize the day, make each and everyday count, and create a life that you love. I know you’ve heard it before, but seriously reflect on the last year even, notice how much has changed and how quickly it passed you by, appreciate the journey.

Please remember to love yourself. This is so so important. Stop looking at Instagram and the media, these people are not real, these people are not what you should idealize. We all have unique stories, experiences, quirks and strengths. That is what your family, friends and the people who love you the most know and see every time they look at you. Which brings me to my next point.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. This is something I am still working on. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves, so it’s easy to criticize, its easy to forget how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come and how much progress you’ve made when you look at yourself everyday in the mirror, but know that you are doing the best you can and things take time. Changes are gradual, so work hard, stay motivated, and understand that results don’t come over night. A good best practice, take note of the things you love about yourself, the stuff you’re good at. And don’t tell me there’s nothing, we all have our strengths, so instead of being your own biggest critic be your own biggest cheerleader. I’ll be one for you too. I wish for you to love yourselves holy and without condition. Wear your war paint with irrevocable pride. Be tenacious in the face of your fears. Be confident when words drip off your tongue. Be mindful of your soul. Keep things you value and have the strength to allow things you don’t, to leave.

With that, work hard and don’t settle. It’s true that good things come to those who work hard, are patient, and enjoy the journey, but it’s also true that if you want something bad enough sometimes you just have to go for it. If you think you deserve something, and have rightfully earned it, then by all means why not go for it, but don’t burn bridges getting there. It’s all about having the right attitude, respecting the process, and being driven enough to get to where you want to be. Again appreciate the process, not everything is going to go your way so accept failure just as much as success. Learn from it, better yourself, and take note on what you are good at as well as what other people say you’re good at it. Chances are it’s a combination of the two, use it as a starting point and strengthen your abilities from there.

I was a quiet child and didn’t really have many friends growing up. But I see how loved you are and I want you to spend time with your friends no matter who they are. Too many times we are shamed into spending all of our time with our girlfriends, and if we have guy best friends we are accused of being a flirt, or said to choose guys over our girls. Truth be told spend time with the people who support you, challenge you, and make you laugh. I don’t care who that is, life is too short not to spend time with genuinely good people. Notice how I didn’t say spend all your time with your significant other, you’re young, you’re exploring, everything is new and change is constant. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, give your time and energy to those who deserve it, but don’t let one person monopolize it. If it’s meant to be, it will be, regardless of the amount of time spent together. Not to mention it’s healthy for your relationship to spend time apart and gain different perspectives.

Always choose family. Let me clarify this by saying, you have a great family who is supportive, loves you, is good to you and has provided for you, then always choose family. Choose the people who always believe in you, want the best for you and have invested their time and energy in you. They are the ones who deserve your time. But understand that not all are perfect. Not everyone is the same and not everyone is loving like you. I’m asking you to not ever let this change who you are.

Make sure to appreciate what you have and say thank you often. This is something I wish I had learned earlier. We are privileged. We have an amazing family, a network of people who have our backs, challenge us to be better versions of ourselves, pick us up when we fall, have guided us, loved us, and provided for us. We live in good homes, we have had the opportunity to continue our education, to go on amazing trips, and to be in the presence of genuine, reliable, extraordinary people. Not everyone gets that, and that’s not even the half of it. So recognize, appreciate, and say thank you often. We are doing the best we can, but so are our parents and families who have worked their asses off to get where they are.

Be kind to everyone including yourself. Kindness is underrated and I’ll be the first to admit I have my moments of unkindness, but ultimately kindness wins. Be good, do good, feel good. Easy enough right? We don’t know everyone’s story, so lend a helping hand when you can, compliment often, and spread kindness around like confetti or dog hair.

I hope you find joy in the mundane of life because seeking joy in the routine of your every day is what gets you through the hardest of days. I hope you know that joy will be your strength, no matter how old you get. And that finding joy can range from sharing a night of laughter with your family to getting spicy nuggs from Wendy’s the days you crave it the most (every day when you’re with me).

I’ll finish by saying I am proud of you. You have passions, ambitions, unique stories, a beautiful soul and I am beyond happy to call you family. Continue to inspire those around you, just as you inspire me everyday, and remember we’re all in this together. I’m never going to forget you and I’m never going to stop talking about you.

Even though we don’t live in the same state I want nothing but for you to be happy. Wish I was there to tell you that everyday, but from a distance, I’m doing just that. You’ll soon realize that you can do anything, you have the ability to do whatever your heart desires, the world is yours. Make the most out of your life. Create those bonds and friendships that will last forever. Do good in school, tell your parents you love them, and just appreciate where you are and all that you have and all you’ve overcome. I love you forever and I can’t wait to watch you blossom even more.

My true happiness doesn’t lie in the experiences I have or traveling or material items. My true happiness comes from the people around me. Even if it’s a new friend that I just met, who actually wants to get to know me and spend time with me, or my brother, or my best friend. My true happiness comes from the relationships I have. My true happiness comes from love.

My last breath better be snacking on a whole cheesecake petting animals, but when the day comes, know that every adventure we’ve been on or couch snuggles, I will live within you, in your heart, your mind, your memory. Know that I won’t leave. I won’t cease to have meaning. And I haven’t abandoned you. I am with you when you turn the knob of the radio and your favorite song comes on especially all the songs we sing in the car together. I am with you with each stroke of the paint brush you take to the canvas. I am with you when you blend colors together on a piece of paper. I am with you when a warmth creeps into your belly for no reason at all (probably from the spicy nuggs), just making you feel happy and alive. I am with you when you can barely lift your tired head, or open your broken heart again.

I am with you, even when I can’t be physically.

Love you forever.
-Serina Krawczyk