To my little brother of 18 years,
Happy Birthday. June 30th will always be a special day for me.
I remember 18 years ago, on this day, I was running around the hospital announcing to all our relatives I’ve become a big brother (大哥). I was nine, oblivious to the responsibility that title would carry in the years to come. That was the least of my worries; a new member has joined the happy family.
I always smile to myself when I recall your kindergarten years; you were always so cheerful and chatty. Extremely chatty. Telling the whole family what happened in the day and although none of us were really listening, your infectious liveliness sparked cheer in all of us.
So much more to say: movies with 二哥 during the school holidays, the school bus bully, “your friend” reliably giving things for you that you weren’t allowed to buy, the box of pineapple tarts you unknowingly finished in an hour. I hate to say it, but it happened so fast. Sometimes I wish I had all those moments on camera, so I can relive them one more time.
So here you are now, on the cusp (I know you like the word ‘cusp’) of adulthood, the peak of your youth (they’ll tell you that again on your 21st). Your future, albeit hazy (too soon?), seems bright and yours for the taking. And rightfully so.
And yet, the journey’s just beginning. You’ve a lot to learn, still. I might just be a little ahead in this journey, and instead of being the reliably naggy 大哥 you’ve come to love, I decided to pen it down and hopefully you’ll come to this page from time to time.
Here’s 9 things you should always keep close to your heart:
- Follow your dreams. Wake up every day looking forward to working at your goals and dreams. Don’t live a life of “should’ve”; live a life of “could’ve and would’ve”.
- Communicate. Pride can sometimes be unnecessarily crippling. Speak out your feelings and thoughts, remove imaginary barriers and engage in honest discussion. If you don’t agree, ask and point out why. Most of the time, you can learn from the other side of the coin.
- Be proud of making mistakes. Mistakes are learning points, and you can only get better after making one.
- Learn to adapt. Sometimes, we are thrust into situations we can’t avoid. Embrace the surroundings and make the best of it.
- Spend more time with the family. No, looking at your phone whilst at the dining table doesn’t count. Soon enough, you’ll be doing National Service followed by attending university. When that’s done, I might already have started my own family, with the two of you bound to follow suit. Let’s treasure the time we have with Papa, Mama and 二哥 now.
- Play hard, work hard. I didn’t need to tell you the play hard bit actually.
- Never crumble under pressure. They say people are like teabags, you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water. Perform under YOUR best circumstances. So what if you fail? Refer to point 3.
- Never forget the family is proud of you. We will always support you in whatever you want to do. And we’ll always be here if you have a question or just need a resting place.
- Love yourself, more than you can love anyone else.
Life beckons. But you’ll always been my little brother, who always happily tells me how his day went, in the cutest way possible.
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