Same family, different child

Camille Kawawa-Beaudan

Older siblings are some of the first role models that most younger children have. Whether it is done consciously or unconsciously, younger siblings naturally look up to them.

I look up to my two older brothers and sister. They are real, relatable people who set good examples for me. But it seems that everyone thinks that I’ll look up to my older siblings, and that furthermore, I’ll want to be exactly like them.

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Most younger siblings know what I’m talking about. There’s always that feeling that people expect you to be like your older siblings.

We are constantly being reminded that a standard has been set for us, and we are constantly wondering whether we will live up to the expectations that result from their achievements.

As the older siblings pass through a school, they leave their reputation behind for the younger siblings to uphold. That reputation — those standards — creates pressure for younger siblings to emulate their behavior and act like the same high-performing student that their older siblings were.

The reputations of older siblings should help and guide younger siblings, not overshadow and daunt them. Their achievements should be examples of what hard work and dedication can produce, not a laundry list that sets the bar so high that it is impossible to reach.

Living with heightened expectations isn’t new to me. Ever since I was in elementary school, every adult I’ve met has expected me to work hard and be the best — just like my siblings were at that age.

That pressure doesn’t just come from the outside: younger siblings put it on themselves as well.

Because of these expectations, I was always trying to fit the mold that my siblings had created. I believed that that was what I wanted.

But I was wrong. I’ve realized that I have my own life, and I’m my own person.

This realization came to me this year when I started going to school with my older sister for the first time. Watching her, I realized that she didn’t play up to teachers or try to act like my brother. She went around acting like herself and not worrying about what other people thought or how they compared her to him.

Seeing this made me realize that I don’t need to play up to anyone or anything either. And maybe in that way, I am like my sister.

But overall, the two of us are completely different. Let me lay this out for you: I am not my siblings. We are all completely different people with different interests, talents, and goals. I’m not going to jump through the same hoops that my siblings did, because I want something different out of high school.

So when you meet me, don’t bother telling me that Julien set the curve on all his AP Chemistry tests, or that Aya got the top score on all her English papers. I already know that. Let me introduce myself to you, and show you my own personality. Remember, you know them, not me.