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Psychoanalyzing The Mind Of My 11-year-old Sister

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

My sister is 9 years younger than me, but she thinks quite a lot for her age. At 11-years-old, she’s struggling in that awkward stage of preteen-hood, where she still watches cartoons but also worries about her popularity in school. I wanted to learn more about the correlation between how children think and our collective human condition. The thing about being the youngest child in the family is that they will always try to race their older sibling in gaining knowledge and wisdom. She’s already thinking about permanent careers even though she’s only 11. I asked her some questions to try to understand her better and to see what she may teach me. 

What is your earliest memory of your worst nightmare?

Definitely an evil doctor! When I was little, my mom took me to a doctor that was pretty scary. In my dream, there were a bunch of them because they were gonna kill me by injecting me with poison. I was five. Maybe that’s around when I got asthma.

My analysis: She had many dreams of “bad guys” coming in. I think when she was five-years-old, she felt pretty powerless to external forces since she was the youngest in the family and was never able to make choices for herself. Suspicions of the outside world only amplified. Strangers at a young age are never ambiguous: always a friend or a foe.

What was your best dream?

The dream I had a few months ago of the future. There were so many dreams, like going up into heaven. But I don’t believe in god though. I went to the backyard, instead of houses everywhere, there was a giant beanstalk. I climbed up the beanstalk and I went on a cloud slide. I could feel the softness of the cloud. Then I saw my third-grade teacher and woke up because I didn’t like her.

My analysis: She goes to a Catholic school, and even though our parents are atheist/agnostic, she likes the western depiction of heaven being a fluffy amusement park in the sky. As for her teacher, I guess not everything ends on a happy note.

What’s your fave philosophy?

One of my favourite quotes is “You can’t change the past, but you can re-shape the future.” I want people to get better in the future. 

My analysis: She likes that quote because the uncertainty of the future often scares her. The quote reassures her that the future is malleable like plasticine. 

Picture the best day ever and describe it to me.

Canada’s Wonderland! Me riding the Leviathan and using the fast-pass to go on all the rollercoasters without waiting in line. I’ve always wanted to go on the rollercoasters with a loop in it. Then I would hang out with my family.

My analysis: Kids are typical adrenaline junkies. I hope that her love for thrill will not lead her to seek dangerous fun in her teenage years.

Picture the worst day ever and describe it to me.

Getting expelled from school and not getting my dream job. Not getting accepted into the high school I want to get into. Then I can’t be a psychologist and help people through their darkest times.

My analysis: In my sister’s eyes, expulsion is synonymous with rejection. To be expelled from school is to be unwanted in a community, and at this age, she fears exclusion the most. Especially since her dreams haven’t sailed yet, it devastates her to have them crushed before even starting. Since she talks a lot but gets ignored a lot too, she wants her words to be impactful therefore she wants to help others through therapy.

What advice would you give to university students?

Stay in school, work hard and follow your heart. Don’t watch “Gacha Life” YouTube. Don’t be a bystander to people getting bullied, but sometimes be one if you think you’re gonna get killed. Then just call the cops. Nothing is really the end of the world. 

My analysis: In other words, do what you gotta do.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t trust [mean girl name]. Stop being so gullible. Tell mom and dad to enroll me in Kumon earlier so I could be on a higher level. That way I’ll know more. 

My analysis: It’s interesting how she’s already an A-student for math in her class yet she’s still striving to be better. This just shows that the better we are at something, the better we want to become. No limit to progress.

What do you think about boys in your class?

They’re good friends, nothing else. People who are dating at this age are too young. Like seriously, just wait until you’re a bit older and then start properly dating. Cause you know those relationships are never gonna last. 

My analysis: At first she thought all the people in her class who were dating were sure to get married. She wrote in her diary how much she “shipped” them and how they had a “wedding party” at recess. But after seeing them all break up within two weeks, she facepalmed.

What advice would you give to a university student looking to date?

I don’t know much about love but trust your gut. And if you feel like they’re a bad person, you have to leave them. Don’t be pressured to date because that’s not real love.

Honestly, those are some facts

It’s interesting: if you ask an 11-year old about their hopes and dreams, they’re essentially not too different from us university students. But what I have noticed is that no matter what age: humans always have their own personal stresses and worries. Maybe it takes a sliver of wisdom to look back and say: “Huh! Perhaps life really did turn out fine after all.” 


Ruisi Liu

Toronto MU '23

Ruisi Liu is a film student at Ryerson from Ottawa who enjoys drawing and binge eating thai express shrimp rolls (the rice paper wrapped ones). She also watches too many philosophy and Vox docs on YouTube. Instagram: @ruisi.liu
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