I am the youngest of three children. I have an older brother and an older sister. They are my role models, supporters, and harshest critics. I possess immense love and respect for my siblings, but our relationships have never been simple.
I did not have a father. When I was ten years old, my mother divorced him, terminating their miserable marriage of twenty years. Years of lies, deceit, and deception had ultimately resulted in a fractured family. While I was too young to comprehend the complexities of the situation, I understood my family was no longer “complete.” My father’s absence left a void, and I internalized a sense of emptiness and felt ashamed. Who was going to teach me how to be a man? Who was going to teach me how to act in a romantic relationship? These worries became insecurities, which led to anger and sadness. I responded by concealing my emotions behind a fake smile. As I stressed, my siblings assumed greater responsibilities in my life and began to fill the void. They cooked, tutored, and clothed me. They became more invested in my academic, personal, and professional growth. However, this transition from sibling to “parent” created a new dynamic between us.
For a long time, I did not feel like an equal to my siblings. My brother was the golden child. His academic prowess seemed unparalleled. He attended Harvard and became an author and a neurologist. My sister possessed social skills I envied and made friends with ease. She is a successful businesswoman, and her aspirations are limitless. Their achievements established the benchmark I utilized to measure my own success. But regardless of what I accomplished, I was never “good enough.” At times, the pressure to match and overachieve perceived expectations would break me and leave me in tears. I felt like their untalented brother, seemingly incapable of personal success. Their critiques were knives that dug deep, and their praises were requests to do more. However, since my arrival at Boston College, I have started developing a unique identity apart from them. For the majority of my life, I had lived in relation to my siblings. Now, I feel like their equal.
As I have aged, I have grown to appreciate the company of my siblings. Conversations feel less like lectures, and I enjoy the freedom to speak without judgment. Last week, my sister visited Hong Kong. We devoted entire days to Disney Land and Ocean’s Park. We ate at Michelin Star restaurants and explored neighborhoods in Kowloon. Throughout these adventures, we shared many laughs and discussed our current and future plans. My family has always struggled to express love and compassion. Although “I love you” have never been spoken aloud, I know our care for one another is mutual. I have been blessed to have two supportive, kind, and generous siblings. They challenge and inspire me to attain my fullest potential. They have shaped my identity and my outlook of the world. I am beyond grateful for them.