This I Believe

Linda - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

I am a younger sibling, but I follow my dreams, not my sister.

It often seems that older siblings – regardless of age, gender, or achievements – tower above, immeasurably, unconquerably tall. Despite the strong starts of our brothers and sisters however, I believe that younger siblings should not relinquish their passions simply to find fresh paths.

Even as children, my sister Peggy and I shared the same hobbies – art, science, and books. As time passed, she, as the older one, was first to try many of the things that interested us both. She took special art classes first, joined the Science Olympiad team first, read the best books first. Initially I ignored her successes and followed her footsteps, as these were my interests too.

Nevertheless, it seemed to me, like it does to many other younger siblings, that I was tagging along unwanted, unnoticed. Though I enjoyed my pursuits, I was soon dissatisfied with my choices. It seemed as though I was always being compared to her, and every time, I came up short. I couldn’t concentrate on my drawings when she was sitting next to me, producing the next Mona Lisa. I ended up not joining the middle school’s Science Olympiad because it was “her thing”, and who could defy a giant like Einstein? I chose books not for their literary value or for pleasure, but for their difficulty level. I wrote stories and started my own blog – only in part because they appealed to me. By stretching beyond her interests, I would be noticed.

However, these choices, though they brought attention, couldn’t completely satisfy me. How could they when I was ignoring the other half of my dreams? It is only the pursuit of your passions that can make you happy – the journey, not the destination. Thus, this sophomore year, I’ve resumed my previous enthusiasm for art – the one untarnished by desire for awards or attention. I still admire my sister’s pieces, yet I don’t attempt to surpass her work, or even to emulate it, because along the way, I’ve realized that although Peggy may be Van Gogh, who says I cannot be Michelangelo? This year, I joined the high school’s Science Olympiad team, and though she may be a resentful Einstein, annoyed at the intrusion, can I not aspire to be a Newton alongside her? Perhaps most telling, I am rereading Joy Luck Club, Harry Potter, and Life of Pi – books that I loved when I first read them, books that I continue to love now. Peggy never strove to be a literary giant, and now, I do not feel the need to either.

Siblings are not rivals; we are contemporaries. We can travel the same paths, yet make different marks. I won’t careen away simply so I can trod my own path through the jungle. I love this route that I am taking. We may fight sometimes, and I may envy you sometimes (perhaps you envy me sometimes), but we are siblings and I love my pursuits; and so most of the time, I am glad that I am here with you.