Gift or Curse? The Complexity of Sisterhood

I have a sister who is three years younger than me. To be honest, we didn’t really get along until two years ago, when we went on a family trip to Japan for one week. There was a time that we hadn’t been talking for almost one year, and that was not because we hated each other, but because we didn’t know what to talk about and how to deal with each other. At that time, I was really defensive, and I saw my sister like an enemy who was always mimicking my dressing styles, doing what I did, and having more privilege in our family because she was the youngest. That was a toxic relationship filled with jealousy and competition, which I think are some common components of sisterhood. 

Ironically, it is hard to understand the person who seems closest to you. Living under the same roof, my sister and I had distinct schedules. During the week, we only saw each other at night and seldom had a long conversation after an exhausting day. I was in the US most of the time, so we didn’t really have time to chat and build that sort of deep conversation. Lacking a chance to understand each other, there was so much guessing and misunderstanding between us. One thing I realized when fixing our relationship was to treat her like my friend. If I portion my time to hang out with my friends, I can definitely do the same with my sister. Whether it is shopping or eating together, at least we start to understand each other’s tastes and build trust. Believe it or not, shopping with your sister can be one of the most wonderful feelings.



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Not only in sisterhood, but in many relationships between women, there can be jealousy and competition. We always want the best for our friends or sisters, but we also want ourselves to be better than them. I used to hate my sister being a copycat because I thought she was taking away my uniqueness and didn’t spend time to figure out what she wanted. I was always pissed off when my sister asked my parents to let her go to the same tutoring center or apply for the same program as me, because it felt like we were competing for the family resources. I believe she sometimes felt the same way, too. It took me some time to change my mindset and to encourage her to pursue what she wants and support her by giving advice. 

My mom told me that my sister's mimicry came from her admiration of me, so I didn’t need to be that defensive. It was hard for me to understand until recent years, because I was always looking at the negative side of our sisterhood. I am not bragging about how I can be a role model for my sister, but I realize how easy it is to compare yourself with the person you are closest to. The same thing can be seen in friendships as well, in which we can sometimes become competitive about grades or internships. To keep these relationships healthy is not to prevent someone from achieving something, and good friends should support each other and cheer for each other's successes. 

Your sister can definitely be a gift, as you naturally have a best friend who is always there for you. However, you should be open-minded and accept her existence, temper, and personality. Treating your sister as your friend can make your life more comfortable and joyful, and I'm grateful to have experienced that myself.


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