Poet + Illustrator + Filmmaker


My Sister Cut Off All Her Hair at 11 Years Old


My sister cut off all her hair at 11 years old. She sent me the picture, a low cut barely a quarter inch off her head, with a full grin as if to say "I am here". That moment was one of many, where I realized that, sometimes, the role of an older sister looks less like teacher and more like student. My little sister has taught me more in her strong silence than I ever thought I would learn.

She is 8 years and 2 months younger than me and was born in the midst my family's move to another country. During my years as a young teenager, I wrestled with the idea that one day my mini me will ask questions about how to navigate her teenage years, years where I was barely holding on myself. The fear that all my mistakes and shortcomings will ruin her life, that I will not be enough of a right influence against this cruel world, plagued my mind. Have I spent enough time with her? Does she feel comfortable enough to come to me about things? I don't want her to hurt in these ways I did. The weight I carried on my shoulders about her future held me down.


When I left home for college, days before her 9th birthday,  we kept our relationship going through phone calls and occasional visits. In those years, along with growing in a new environment, I cut my hair and later decided to start my dread journey. She observed, but I never assumed she had an interest in being natural. She had been receiving perms for as long as I could remember. 

My sister cutting her hair off may seem like a simple task. Others may say it's just hair, but at 11 years old, a year before middle school, shaving her hair off was a testament to something greater. In that moment, I don't think she realized the amount of courage she exuded. After months of making my sister wait and think her decision through, my Mom allowed her to proceed with shaving all her hair off. She wanted to be natural and start fresh; She gave me a call the day she did it, without warning. My sister was not concerned with how her classmates would receive it; she was not burdened with the perception of outsiders. She was not dependent on hair for her value. It blew me away!

Have you ever heard the phrase, "You don't convert anybody. God does"? Yea. It hit me hard that day. The thought came to mind when I realized, no matter how perfect or imperfect I am with her, my influence only goes so far. God is the one who shapes and molds, and allows life to happen to her in ways outside my control. In all that, he allows me to be a guide in her life. There is purpose in that, but he knows her heart better than I ever could. I should not carry the fear of ruining her life on my shoulders. That is not my cross to bear. 


Now at 14, she walks, mahogany skin radiant, in a natural confidence I wish I had at her age. Her journey resembles a fearless leap off a mountainside with bravery stitched to her back. She is an eclipsed moon, walking into a room like her presence is worth stopping to marvel at; a rare moment worth seizing. I am honored to call her my sister. I see a light in her that I can take no credit for, and I am confident that no trial in this world can diminish it. I say this to say, If you have a younger sibling; I encourage you to stop and reflect on what their presence has taught you. I have grown to see that to call someone sister is a bond almost as beautiful as the Trinity.

In what ways have your younger siblings inspired you?