This I Believe

Amy - Boynton Beach, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

There’s nothing I’m more proud or protective of than my younger sister Kacey. Taller, prettier, and more athletic than me; I really should despise her beyond the normal dislike that all sisters are entitled too. But as an older sister, I often deal with her silliness. Two years divide us, but we are both wise beyond our ages, which has saved us from each other. But her youth and inexperience has given me trials that have created me. Thanks to my twerp sister, I am who I am today. Thanks to her, my sense of responsibility is a driving force in my life that allows me live without feeling guilty or lost.

Back in 2003, I was an eighth grader shopping around for high schools to attend and excel at. I was hoping to get as far away from home as possible, to follow in my father’s boarding school footsteps and find myself on my own terms unhindered by the community I had so starkly contrasted with. Even at thirteen, I was a liberal in a sea of Republicans, my gated golf-and-tennis neighborhood restricting my thoughts. I wanted to leave for St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vemont; where my favorite of our family friends lived nearby the school and worked as faculty members. I could live in a college atmosphere early on, be among kids who were on my radio. When I visited the academy, I fit in perfectly. Compared with the Episcopalian private school I had attended to since kindergarten, St. Johnsbury was heaven on earth.

While I was sending applications to local and distant high schools, my sister in sixth grade was dating Randy, a seventh grader who occasionally made my skin crawl. They were crazy for each other, I don’t even want to remember how many times I turned down the hall and saw them kissing. Not only is it slightly embarrassing that your younger sister is more popular and more attractive than you, but for her to have a boyfriend while you went to the dances with “Catcher in the Rye” was the example of loserdom. I managed to keep myself happy, but my sister’s increasing physicality with Randy constantly weighed on my mind. Also, her closest friends began to smoke and become sexually active. In South Florida, you can get anything with a pretty face.

So during my application process for secondary school, I got closer to my Jane and helped her best I could. She claimed to love Randy, but you know puppy love when you see it. I warned him to stop pressuring her, exerting my upperclassmen and older sister status. Our feud over Kacey became common knowledge and her embarrassment. I could care less, so long as she was safe. Every day was a horrible torture, obsessing over her safety. Eventually, she started leaking that she and her boyfriend were getting closer and closer to the “next step” – sex. My twelve year old sister was serious considering having sex while my Saint Johnsbury acceptance date was days away. I knew that if I left, my sister would go somewhere darker than I ever wanted to know or think of. Without me to boss and bully her to reason, she would be one of those lost kids that social workers lament about. She was full of potential who didn’t need worries about pregnancy or STDs to screw up her life.

I stayed. I told her what my thoughts and opinions. In the end, she made the right decision. After the ultimatum of “sex or we’re over”, she sobbed over the breaku-up, while I silently cheered her. I went to my county’s premier arts school and have done well there, with good friends among students and staff. You have a responsibility to yourself and others. Sometimes the two conflict. I often wonder what would have happened if I had gone to Saint Johnsbury, how it would have effected me. But I believe that no matter what experiences I may or not have, I will remain instinctually and essentially me. I believe in the responsibility to yourself and to others. My duty to Kacey is part of the responsibility to myself, an unfathomably huge part of me. I owe her who I am.