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I struggle to form and build relationships with other women, and I think it has a lot to do with the way things are between me and my sisters.  The relationship I have with my sisters these days is seemingly non-existent, but growing up, I followed their every movement. However, as we’ve grown, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum, often to their disapproval.

I am the baby sister, and even though I’m three years away from 30, I’m often treated like we’re still young and I’m the little one following my big sisters around. I’ve always been a freethinker and my interests have always gone against the grain. But because I come from a Caribbean family and they do things a certain way without any exceptions, those interests are often frowned upon. Anything other than what is culturally accepted by all Jamaicans is simply not tolerated—they don’t want to hear it. I’m a millennial and I do things my own way, and my sisters usually can’t understand that. They can be rigid and quick to conform, whereas I am a little more on the fence and always trying to see things from a different vantage point. So when it comes to discussions and conversations with my sisters, I don’t get any respect, which has made our interactions extremely frustrating.

My siblings often view my opinions as inferior. My ideas are written off as “silly” or “immature,” but I have lived and experienced many things, just as my older sisters have, and I too have wisdom to share. I know this kind of treatment is unique to me as the baby sister, because I’ve watched my older sisters seek out the advice and companionship of people who are the exact same age as I am. I would love for us to be close, and I’ve tried to make that happen over the years, but my sisters can be condescending and distant–and that has been hurtful.

If you have a relationship that is the complete opposite with your own sisters, be thankful for that. I myself have had to go the lengths of forming sisterly bonds with my friends. And while I appreciate those relationships, I will never stop yearning to be seen and respected by my biological big sisters.

To the big sisters out there treating their little sisters like babies, or in my case, as less than, do what my sisters don’t. Listen to her ideas and try to offer encouragement rather than direction. Younger siblings aren’t always looking for a guide, but rather, a listening ear and some support. Also remember that your younger sister is entitled to live her life on her terms, and living her life different from the way you live yours does not mean it’s “wrong.” I ask you to meet your sister’s radical ideas with intrigue and an open mind, rather than with judgement simply because you think you know better. And more than anything, just be supportive and loving, because you are your sister’s keeper.

Opal Stacie is a freelance writer out of the Miami area. Keep up with her on IG @king.Opal and her upcoming blog

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