Growing up as the older sister does have its privileges, I get to tell my younger siblings off, be responsible and generally run the house (that might be Somali girl specific), but sometimes it’s just tiring and draining. One thing I am very jealous of is, of anyone who has an older sister because having an older woman in your life can help you from a lot of hurt and embarrassment down the line. Yes I have an older brother, but it’s not the same.
It starts with the main things that we associate with being a woman like puberty and periods – which unsurprisingly isn’t fun when your mother tells you next to nothing about what’s going to happen to your body. You’re just left thinking you’re going to die and being shit scared. Which in retrospect is funny but at the time it was a serious fear that I had and I would have had more knowledge about it if I had an older sister. The puberty talk I gave my youngest sisters was somewhat gruesome, but it prepared them for everything that was coming.
As the older sister I also found myself having to battle against everything, from ridiculous curfews, to the double standards when it came to who cleaned the kitchen (spoiler alert, I had to fight so my brother cleaned). I do truly believe it’s the oldest girls job to have these battles in ethnic households, but sometimes it’s tiring. Sometimes I would want to just give in, but then I’d see some of my friends deal with the side effects of not having this mini rebellion, and I never wanted my younger sisters to deal with this nonsense. Having an older sister would shift some of the responsibility and just give me time to breath and not have to worry about everything for once.
This might seem very materialistic but having someone to help me deal with hair/makeup/fashion growing up would have been bloody nice. I literally had to fend for myself and the awkward stage I had in my teen years was just plain embarrassing. I knew nothing, just like Jon Snow, and have even deleted Facebook in an attempt to not have pictures of me back then public to the internet. Because of this, I try to help out my sisters as much as I can, especially when it comes to hair because a lot of the advice influencers give us are expensive lies.
Having an older sister makes life just a little bit easier, since having to navigate the world as a girl and as a woman is just … difficult. I’m happy I can do this for my younger sisters, but the more I do it, the more I realise how much I missed out on.