Sibling comparisons are kind of the worst. Especially when you have three sisters who are all relatively the same age as you. And especially when you’re the shy older sister. Growing up, my older sister was always the more extroverted one, given she is an actor. (Isn’t that a prerequisite?) We look strikingly similar, although it is definitely easier for people to distinguish us now that we are older because we have our own defining features. For me, that is my small eyes and rounder face. My older sister has larger eyes and a more slim face.
But as you can imagine, when you are born a little over a year apart from someone, the comparisons will begin at a young age. For example, our friends used to follow the wrong sibling to the bus. And we used to dress the same! I will always refer to the default purple dresses we wore as kids to school and the half-up-half-down hairstyle which made our curly hair look similar to a lion’s mane.
I recall teachers asking me to volunteer more or talk more because my sister was so outgoing. I always admired her for how outgoing she was and how she was never afraid. As we got older, I realized she had insecurities like the rest of us, but nonetheless, she was still fearless in my eyes. Because for me, fear is almost like a temperament. Given I am a Pisces (for people who religiously follow astrology) I am an over thinker, but am also very creative. I will usually have a pretty great idea and then when the moment comes to take action, I am scared out of my mind. When I started college, it got worse. A lot of people tend to tie those types of anxious feelings to being shy, which sometimes can be true. But even extraverted people can be anxious.
I always like to use the example of my mom and aunt; my mom used to be terrified of driving on industrial roads such as the parkway or turnpike, meanwhile my aunt can do that stuff with ease. My aunt drives through Times Square like it’s a backroad. But my aunt has different, more personal fears that my mom does not have. So both of them cannot understand the other’s fears and why they have them, when they can so easily conquer the other’s worst fear. Moral of the story is, everyone is afraid, it just depends on what you’re afraid of.
So in conclusion, I try to let go of the sibling comparisons that have held onto me for many years. For example, I am shy. I am what social psychologists may refer to as “slow to warm up”. I am very shy when I first meet people, and then I will slowly become more comfortable as time goes on. Sometimes I will never become comfortable. It is almost a magic power, because it weeds out the people who are not good for me. But sometimes it is a curse, like most things.
But as I grow up, I am learning to be okay with who I am, and that some people will prefer peaches over apples. That doesn’t mean the apple isn’t a great apple.