3 Things I Have Learned From My Brother

1. Surround yourself with people whom you love and who love you unconditionally. I was on my brother’s computer this weekend, configuring our iTunes libraries. My brother has had his computer for a couple of weeks, but already it is full of pictures of people who are important to him. The screen saver, the wallpaper, any picture icon – it’s all of people whom he cares about. I have had my computer for over three years, and I have never personalized anything with my friends and family.

I think that’s why if I don’t see my family for a while, I get really tired and start avoiding people. I don’t constantly recharge my battery by reminding myself that there are people in the world who will care about me even if I decide to start living in a sewer. My brother is good about that.

2. The only people’s opinions who are important are the those that you decide are important. My brother does not care if you dislike him. Because he doesn’t know you. It’s so incredibly simple and relieves so much stress.

I am constantly trying to maximize who likes me. I don’t post anything on this blog that’s too controversial because I want people to think I’m an alright guy. I have full faith that if my brother was of the blogging variety, his blog would be one of the most conversation-generating on the internet. Because he wouldn’t be afraid to post something that was unpopular.

3. Never like anything you don’t like. A lot of my friends at school are horrible about this. They have things they actually like and things they ironically like. This concept is foreign to my brother. If he likes something, he likes it. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t.

My brother also refuses to “like” things he’s “supposed” to. I am constantly trying to make myself like classics, whether in literature, film, or music. And this is just so that I can seem cultured. How self-serving. My brother is better than that.

I promise that I will stop with the mushy brother posts for a while.

To My Brother Upon His Graduation

To my brother and (if they feel like reading) the class of 2012,

You have done it. Congratulations! Thirteen long years have resulted in a diploma. Here are some things you should know.

First, a lot of people are going to try to give you advice. Don’t pay attention to it. Maybe that makes me sound like a jerk. But here’s the thing. One, you should probably pick and choose the advice you follow anyway. And two, at the end of the day, you aren’t going to follow advice. So I’m freeing you from it. Just make up your mind now. At some point in the next part of your life, you are going to remember the words someone wrote on a graduation card to you, and you are going to ignore them. Revel in it.

The next part of your life is not the best. The last four years of your life were not the best. Life should be lived somewhere where you are trying to make each day better than the last. The last day of your life should be your best. You still have some ways to go.

Don’t buy into the real world/childhood dichotomy. You have been in the real world for a while. Thirty year olds still watch cartoons and play video games. Seventeen year olds are beating cancer. Think about that.

Always act as if you have a ton to learn. When you are an expert in something, you will know because people will want to learn something from you. Until then, ask a lot of questions.

Remember that for four years, you mostly got along with a group of 300 something people. That’s amazing. I’m lucky if I get along with a couple of people every week. Remember that no matter how much you disagree with someone, they were a teenager once, too. They once struggled awkwardly through a first kiss and stayed up too late on a school night and tried that thing with the Pop Rocks and the Coke. Believe in humanity.

As much as you can, stay away from anger. All anger will do is make enemies out of friends. There are already too many enemies in the world.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to avoid anger. When that happens, remember that you are angry at ideas, behaviors, and situations not at souls.

Find something to believe in. Believe in it wholeheartedly. If it turns out you are wrong, believe in something else.

Refresh Yourself

I spent my weekend hanging out with high school seniors. Hopefully, there will be pictures forthcoming. I think there’s something really refreshing about hanging out with the life stage immediately below you. The refreshing part about it is that life stages are really fluid and so their problems are your problems except different enough that you have solutions for their problems. That’s all a bit confusing. Let me explain.

I have a brother. His name is Ty. He’s wonderful. He’s my best friend. Our relationship is pretty simple. When we were little, we fought. When I got to high school, we started to respect each other, but didn’t feel like we could talk to each other. Then when he got to high school we became equals, peers. And that’s how it is now. And we talk, quite a bit. And that’s very nice.

When we talk now, his problems are my problems and vice versa. Both of us are trying to figure out how to juggle school, extracurriculars, and a social life. Both of us are trying to figure out what our next life stage is going to look like. Both of us are trying to figure out how to be more self-confident and how to navigate relationships.

But we deal with these problems in very different ways. Part of this is because we are different people. But another part of it is because we are at different points in our lives. Right now, I have a tendency to complicate things. And so when I hang out with my brother and his friends, they make me simplify everything. And right now, Ty and his friends have  a tendency to simplify things. And so I try to help them gain more perspective on a problem. (I don’t know if that’s helpful or true, but I pretend like it is.)

And that’s all very refreshing. It’s refreshing to know that the game always kind of stays the same, and it’s just your own convoluted brain that changes. It’s refreshing to know that there are people who care about you no matter what happens.