I have two little sisters. Well maybe I should say younger because there is nothing little about either of them. One is already several inches taller and the other is surely going to surpass me soon. Though, I am still the biggest.
When I was younger I didn’t like being the oldest, I had to do the harder chores, watch my sisters and it felt like everything was always my fault. It was not that I did not love my sisters, because I did and do love them more than anything in the world, but I didn’t know if I was up to the task of being a big sibling. People would tell me how much my sisters must look up to me because all younger siblings look up to their older siblings (whether they will admit it or no). And how I had to set a good example or I could lead one of them down a bad path.
So, I decided that I would be a great role model for my sisters. I felt, and still feel, a real sense of duty to those girls. I knew that I couldn’t let them down. So, I never let either one of them see me struggle because I didn’t want to be unworthy of their blind faith in me.
My senior year middle sister went through a real rough patch, mean girls and middle school, and I didn’t really know how to help her out. I would just tell her cliché words of wisdom, like “just be the bigger person” or “you shouldn’t care what people say about you anyway.” She would, very understandably, just tune me out and shoo me away. Although my helpful words were ringing with truth they did little to aid my sister. They came across as condescending and patronizing, even though that is not how I meant for it be perceived.
One day we ended up yelling at each other and she shouted at me “you have no idea what it was like, you have never had it hard.” Those words hit me like a truck. I shrunk down to about the size of a pea and tried not to let the tears escape my eyes. Out of frustration and confusion I walked away.
A while later I sat down with her to explain to her what a mess my life really was. That school had always been hard for me to and I had to work really hard to get slightly above average grades in high school. That I had felt the anxiety of not knowing who to sit with at lunch. And that all kinds of relationships, romantic and platonic, have their ups and downs.
This was the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship. It undoubtedly brought us closer but it also allowed her to see a side of me that I had kept hidden for a long time that made me more relatable. The pedestal that I had been afraid I would lose if she discovered my imperfections was now higher than ever. I wish that it hadn't taken a huge fight and 13 years to figure out that I didn't have to be perfect to be a good role model for my girls.
I would be lying if I said that I now have an impeccable relationship with my sisters and that I am a perfect role model for them. Neither of those things are even remotely true. But, we love each other and stick together and that is the most that any siblings could hope for.