Definitely Not Telling You What To Do: An Open Letter To My Little Sister

Dear Gabby,

You were born in May of ’98. We’d been at the zoo. Our mum, who by that point was a quietly contracting blimp floating in a mobility scooter past the elephant enclosure, made sure that my final day as an only child (and your final day in utero) was a good one. But in typical Gabrielle fashion, once you decided you’d had enough- you arrived; you gave very little warning and took everyone in the hospital by surprise.


Thanks for at least waiting til we’d left, though. You spared yourself a lifetime of “born at the zoo” jokes.

I was four, all tangled hair and chubby cheeks and fairy tales. I had wished on every star and every passing aeroplane I’d ever seen for a sister. What I got was my best friend and complete opposite.

When our brother was born, two years later, you would become the middle child. You recently called yourself the glue that keeps us together, and it’s true.


You weren’t always the glue though!

We’re a pretty tight-knit family, all things considered. We do bear remarkable likeness to the Belchers from Bob’s Burgers: you’d definitely be Louise, the mastermind. Alex is just as sassy and hilarious as Gene, and you both insist that I’m the Tina in every situation.


Montreal, 2013

We’re all so different: me, the only introvert in the family, with a pierced nose and a habit of making people cups of tea. Alex is taller at 14 than any of us expected, he’s growing into his striking good looks, his freckles that we both envy so much, his perfect shiny black hair, his eyelashes for days and raw musical talent. And then there’s you: long legs and long locks spiralling uncontrollably when you don’t straighten them, athletic and intelligent and funny in a kind of weird way. We’re all like mum, but all unlike each other. Alex got her charm and her smarts (what 14 year old checks the stock market?!), I got her writing, and you got her love of science.

You’re 17 now. Grade 12 is intense for anyone, but you took maths and science and joined the hockey team, because you like a challenge. You’re almost a young adult, but in my head you’ll always be the two year old spitfire.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 01.55.41

But here we are, and you’re looking for Biology programs at a school that will let you keep your love of art part of your education. You’re thinking about where to go. I winged my entire uni application process- and luckily I landed right where I always needed to be: at Glendon. It took two years, a life-threatening infection, and a whirlwind international transfer, but I got here. I never thought I’d say this, Gab, but I think maybe this could be the place for you too.

Because guess what, sis? We just introduced a Biology program.

I know what you’re thinking. All of last year we talked about how Glendon wouldn’t be any good for you, since we used to be predominantly a Liberal Arts campus. But now, that could be the very reason you should think about it.

I’m not telling you to come to Glendon. I’m suggesting that you consider it. This is a choice only you know how to make. But you’ve mentioned a lot that you regret dropping French, and you can start learning it from scratch here. You love liberal arts as well as the sciences, and you’d have access to them here. You love plants and ecology, and none of our buildings are taller than the trees. We even have a rose garden. Being a scientist who has the critical, big-picture thinking that you gain from the Liberal Arts- and bilingual to boot? That’s a winning combination.

You’d love it here, Gab. I can just imagine you being involved at Lunik, maybe looking after the community garden. I can picture you hanging out in the Breezeway or taking exercise classes at the GAC. You’d fit right in with our friendly little community, you’d bring about positive change in ways only you can. And, you know, we have lots of great selfie locations… something to consider.


Coming to Glendon would mean that we can still watch trashy tv together.


Hopefully, if we’re on campus together, we won’t accidentally show up in matching outfits. It’s happened before and we can never figure out who copied who.


And most importantly, if you come to Glendon, you’ll be staying in Toronto. If you move out of town I’ll have to finally fork out the money to get my driver’s license to come visit you, and I’m broke. Do it for your poor, impoverished sister.


But like I said, it’s a decision only you can make. It’s important to have all the info- so go to as many open days or campus tours as you can make time for, including ours.

Just something to think about, beb. I’ll be seeing ya at Fall Campus Day.


9 thoughts on “Definitely Not Telling You What To Do: An Open Letter To My Little Sister

  1. I feel like I’m watching a proposal… SAY YES, GABBY! 😉

    Lovely post as always ❤ After a day of cramming poems into the spaces between readings, your post fit right in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed reading this! I have an older sister who’s in her final year of university at UTM (took a gap year last year) and she’s often giving me advice on which universities provide you with what and helping me ask the right questions at fairs. We’re 6 years apart and i’m currently the same age as your sister. We also have a younger sister that is turning 15 in december so I could honestly really relate to the stuff in this post! This letter to your sister sounds a lot like how my sister would write one to me (I think she’s planning to lol) and i think it’s very sweet. I’m thinking of Glendon next year so maybe (somehow- the world’s crazy like that) i’ll meet your sister if she decides to come!


    • Thank you so much! This is so funny- my younger brother turns 15 in December, too! That’s so exciting that you’re considering GL- what program are you looking at? Are you coming to Fall Campus Day on Nov 8th? I’ll be there, and my sister will be visiting. 🙂
      It means the world to me that you liked this post; obviously it felt very personal and I was nervous to post it, so you’ve made my day.


      • I’m glad I could brighten up your day! I was thinking about going for International studies. I’ve been having a lot of trouble picking a university though because i’m interested in International Communication but most universities don’t have that or have two programs that are different. Glendon’s International studies is probably the closest I’m gonna get and I figure if i pick my electives right, I could make the degree what I want (?). I also wanna continue taking Korean classes and maybe start Chinese if I can but that’s at the Keele campus I think and I don’t know how schedules work yet.
        I was planning on going to the campus tours, but isn’t it on the 7th? or the 8th for Glendon?


      • Awesome choice! International Studies seems like such a cool program. Have you checked out the other eAmbassador’s blogs? Sonia, Sarah, Nadia, Bryan, Jen, Asha and Kiera are all in that program: you can find their blogs here:
        The Glendon open house is on the 8th, Keele is on the 7th. Definitely come! It’s a really good way to figure out if a uni is right for you. There will be lots of students and profs around to talk to about the program and the campus, so it’s a great way to get your questions answered in person 🙂 Say hi if you see me there!


  3. Pingback: Definitely Not Telling You What To Do: Open Letter To My Sister Pt.2 | Tea & Textbooks

  4. Pingback: Definitely Not Telling You What To Do: Open Letter To My Little Sister Pt.2 | Tea & Textbooks

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